11/13/12 - The African Stork Returns!

A wonderful call came today from our international agency - "We have an 18 month old little boy?"

Yes! Yes! Yes!  This is the child the Lord has always known about and how privileged we are to be his forever family!!

For many legal and safety reasons, we cannot share most of the details.  Right now the legal process will begin in his country and in approximately 7 months, Daniel Aaron P**** will be home - we cannot wait!

PRAISE: God for every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

PRAY: For Danny, for his health, happiness, and safety.  And please pray for the legal process and mounds of paperwork - that all would go swiftly and smoothly.  We know this little boy will arrive home right on time, not one day early nor one day late.

Happy Fall!

The boys LOVE jumping in the leaves and have seriously have raked about 90% of the ones in our yard!
What a handsome lad!
And little brother's pretty cute too!
Loving fall

Next it's on to carving pumpkins.  John is like me and doesn't mind getting the gunk out while Ryan is more like Mike - tell when when it's time to do the face!
"I'm done now!"

Carving faces with Daddy

and Mommy

And of course, the best part of fall - trick or treating (otherwise known as the time when leftover Easter and parade candy gets thrown out!)
Police Officer Ryan and John as "The Flash"

"The Magic of Adoption" Adoption Fundraiser

Join illusionist Brent Allan and friends for a night of fun for all ages!

Friday, November 16th

Lakeland Church
440 North Hunt Club Road
Gurnee, Illinois

Suggested donations: $4.00 individuals, $10.00 family

Please join us if you can!  And we'd love help spreading the word.  It will be a really fun night and all proceeds (which will be everything as Brent and his friends have graciously offered not to charge us - big praise!) will go toward our adoption!!

10/26/12 - Officially on the Waiting for a Referral List!

We scanned and emailed a copy of our I-171H form to our agency today and are now happily on the wait list for a referral!!!!  We are requesting a child of either gender, aged 0-2 years old and are anxiously awaiting learning who he or she is!!

Then tonight I went and mailed our dossier documents to our agency.  Mike was taking a little video and Ryan heard us.  He came to join in the closing segments of the video which Mike than took a picture of!
Don't you love Ryan's excited pose?
Before leaving, Mike, John, Ryan, and I all prayed for the paperwork and for new brother of sister.  And we know there are SO MANY praying with us - and we are SO grateful for your prayers!!

10/25 - It's here!

I wasn't going to begin stalking the mailbox until tomorrow ... but then I had this feeling - wouldn't it be great if our I171-H form arrived today, but there's no way, it's so early after fingerprinting, not even two weeks, but wouldn't it be great! but totally unrealistic to think but still, where it the mail truck!!?  (And yes, that huge run on sentence did run through my head this afternoon.)

So when the mail finally came, what should be there - our federal approval form, the I171-H!!   This is the piece of paper we need in order to receive a referral from our agency!!  WOW!!!

So even though our adoption agency's office was closed, I called and left a message ... now we'll see.  The African stork could be landing at our house again very soon!!!

50/50 Referral Guess Raffle

We are beginning our 50/50 Referral Guess Raffle with just $5 to enter!! (If this idea in any way bothers you – please feel free to stop reading this post!) 

We are requesting a child of either gender, aged 0-2 years old.  If you’d like to enter the raffle, we need to know: boy or girl and how old you think he/she will be at time of referral Then as a tie breaker, please list the date on which you think we’ll receive our referral call.  FOR EXAMPLE: Amy thinks it’s going to be a boy, 18 months old, referral date on November 1st

You can enter as many times as you’d like with different guesses.  Just email us your guess(es) and pay us when you see us or send the money in the mail! (The Vagnoni Family, 408 South Slusser Street, Grayslake, IL 60030)

Winner will be announced right after we receive our referral.  We’ll keep half of all money collected and the winner will get the other half!

Please feel free to share this fundraiser with others!!

Three Years Ago Today

"This is your referral call."

Oh, how lovely those words sounded three years ago today!!  I got the call at work and because Mike was working third shift at the time and didn't hear the phone ring, I came home from work to wake him up so we could call our agency back and hear who our children were!! It was the longest drive home ever - and all i kept thinking was I need to not speed and get a speeding ticket because that will just get me home later.

Three years ago today we saw the first pictures of our boys:

John was so sick at the time and look at that smile on Ryan's face - doesn't it just say, "Look out! Here I come!"

And our world changed, so much for the better.

Last Pieces of Dossier Paperwork!

The second to last piece of paper needed for our dossier (the official bundle of paperwork that will be sent by our agency overseas) arrived in the mailbox yesterday!  We needed two power of attorney papers authenticated by our state - not even going to explain what that means, just know it was relatively painless - and they are sitting in the pile with the other papers waiting.

Now we wait for that last piece - the I-171H form.  This will come in the mail from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and is approval by the federal government for us to adopt an orphan internationally.  Next Friday will be two weeks since our finger print appointment and I will officially begin stalking the mailbox daily after that.  Once that lovely piece of paper arrives, we call our international agency in Indianapolis and tell them it is here!!  And after that ... they can match us with a child, which because the need is so great, we are expecting to happen shortly after!!

And so that means, our third child has been born and already needs or will shortly need a forever family.  My heart has begun to cry out for him (or her).  I ask God to watch over this precious child - to keep him safe, to shower him with a comfort and knowledge that he is loved by a heavenly Father.  And I lift up his/her first family, for it is their sorrow that will be our joy.  And I try to process all this as we wait and watch God's plan for our lives unfold.  And I am thankful that in all things He works good for those who love Him.

America World Adoption Seminar coming to Gurnee!

An America World Adoption “Adopted by Design” seminar is coming to Lakeland Evangelical Free Church on Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 10am to noon.  The “Adopted by Design” seminar is a free two-hour seminar that helps families to understand the blessings and the process of international adoption.

For more information about America World or to register, please visit their website: www.awaa.org and click the “Events” link at the top of the page.

Please share this information with those you think might be interested!  And if you live in the Lake County area and your church might be interested in hosting its own seminar next spring, please let me know!!

Wordless Wednesday

Doesn't it really look like Pretty is listening to Ryan read?

Fall Photo Shoot

How fancy and official is that title for you!?  In leu of school photo packages, we have our own photo shoot outside in the fall.  I must admit, the boys are amazingly photogetic (at least I think so!)

We're still here!

Well, two months have come and gone!  I've written a summer full of posts in my head but obviously never gotten them onto this blog - ha!

It was a great and adventure filled summer: backyard camping, zoo trips, story time at the library, Backyard Bible Club (me teaching and the boys attending), children's concerts, trips to the beach, trips to the spray park, a over night trip to Sheboygen courtesy of my parents, free evening concerts, $1 movies, friends taking the boys and I to Great America, Green Bay getaway, outdoor theatre (they made it through both kids' movies!), Wisconsin State Fair, and the summer always ends with a neighborhood block party.  I completely enjoyed my summer and kept the boys mostly to myself, not a lot of play dates, as the reality of John being gone the whole day at school drew closer.

So with that said, here's pictures of their first day of school - aren't they so handsome!

John is in first grade and LOVES his teacher.  After attending the Back to School Night, I am excited for all the year has to offer too.  Ryan is in afternoon kindergarten with the same teacher as John had last year.  He is also LOVING going to school.

On the adoption front, things are moving faster than we expected - PRAISE GOD!!  Our home study is done and has been approved by DCFS and our international agency. We have sent the paperwork in to the federal government (the I-600A form) requesting to adopt a child internationally and will wait for that approval as well as our fingerprinting appointment.  While we wait we will be gathering the remainder of our documents for our dossier.  Excitement is building!

My sincere hope would be to publish on the blog more often - I would relish any suggestions from busy Moms on when you all have time to add to your blogs!!  Thanks in advance for your ideas.

New Additions

No we did not get our referral yet - but we did get 2 kittens!!!!  Pretty (name picked by John) is a girl and Henson (named after one of Mike and mys puppeteer heroes) is a boy and they are almost 3 months old.  They are crazy fun to have and are getting used to our house.  They love to wrestle with each other and play with all the free cat toys we have - ribbons, yarn, empty cut up toilet paper holder - as opposed to the $4 feather on a stick toy each boy picked out - HA!  They are also curious about any opening in the house: cabinets, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.  They will come lie next to the boys and John and Ryan are so excited they are here! (And I am too!!)
John with Henson (black cat) and Pretty (ginger cat)
Ryan with Pretty
sleeping on the couch after a day of playing

Wordless Wednesday

Silly boys during bath time!

Adoption Update

We have all our home study paperwork in, have completed all necessary training, and all our clearances are in except for those from the FBI.  Once our social worker gets those, she can write up our home study, have it approved by her supervisor, DCFS, and our international agency, and then we can send a copy in to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration) along with our I-600A form, which is the form requesting the adoption of an international orphaned child. WOW!

I also think we can begin our training with our international agency.  Since they are in Indiana, we will do most of it via Skype.  They also require a written paper about our child's country which I am very excited to do!!

NEXT STEPS: Download Skype onto our computer so we can participate in the training and contact our international agency and see if we can begin their classes!

PRAISE: Almost everything is done for home study!!

PRAYER: That the FBI clearance would come as soon as possible (I really wanted to type yesterday!) or at least within the next 30 days.  If it's after 30 days, a social worker has to come back and visit our house.  And I'll take prayer that Skype would work on our computer too!!

Summer Is Here!

Happy Summer to all!

We are off to a fun start of a summer (hopefully) filled with play dates, dollar movies, trips to the beach, playing outside, riding bikes, children's concerts, fabulous garage sale finds, lots of time to draw and color and paint, fires in the fire pit complete with cheese filled mini hot dogs and smores, camping (in the back yard, at my parent's house, and with our Yahoo Group friends!), fresh home grown green beans, running through the sprinkler or careening down the slip and slide, trips to the zoo and children's museums, Backyard Bible Club, the Wisconsin State Fair, Green Bay Packers training camp, and more!!!!

However,  the following conversations both occurred with the boys the week school ended:

John: Don't I go to school on Wednesday?
Mommy: No, there's no school until August.
John: I can't wait until August!

Ryan (right before going to be): Do I go to preschool tomorrow?
Mommy: No, baby, you're done with preschool and don't start kindergarten until the fall.
Ryan: (very disappointed): aaaahhh!

taking a safari

There's nothing like a box to play in!!  Ryan is driving the train through the savannah while John is narrating the trip and filming it all with his ipad! Hilarious!!

Wordless Wednesday

Adoption Update - Step 1

Things are moving!!

We are getting ready to put all our step 1 documents in the mail to our international agency! Just some notarizations needed and approval that all looks good and we'll be able to check this first step off the list!! (Our adoption has been divided into 11 steps, with step number 9 being when our new son or daughter comes home. And just in case you're wondering what steps come after he/she comes home, they would be the readoption process and post placement requirements.)

We've also met with our new social worker and are being to sign papers and gather documents for the home study, which is part of step 2.

NEXT STEPS: Finish signing papers, take an online class called Journey of Attachment, and write our autobiographies - all for the home study process.
PRAISE: That we have been able to so easily schedule physicals for all in our family (we told the boys they were helping us get one step closer to new brother or sister, which was especially helpful when they needed to have blood taken!), that our doctor eagerly went to her bank to get our health letters notarized, that we love our social worker, that everyone is so excited and supportive, and that I am not feeling overwhelmed with completing all the paperwork while doing life at the same time - a VERY God thing!!
PRAYER: That completing the paperwork would go smoothly, that the Lord would continue to bless our fundraising efforts, and for the boys who would like brother or sister here now. (Ryan: Are they coming today? Mommy: No, not today. Ryan: How about tomorrow?)

We're still here!

So life has been crazy good lately:But seriously, as I reflected on what to say in this post to let you all know we are still here and doing well, I tried to think of a clever way to explain my absence in writing posts or list some of the fun things we've been doing. And I began to think of the ordinary things that fill my days such as laundry, making meals, taking the boys to the bus, etc. and how I can't seem to manage to add a few posts a week. And then it hit me - I am so blessed by the ordinary day to day things: there is a husband and two little boys who love me and I get to do their laundry and cook them meals (and thank you Mike for doing the dishes each night!) and clean their house (some weeks much cleaner than others!) and wave good bye to the bus and read stories together and all the other little moments that make up life. And what a wonderful life it is!!

So Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

Here we go again!

The blue crate is back out!!For those of you who followed our adoption of the boys, you might remember the blue crate - it is an alphabetical listing of EVERYTHING we need or receive for the adoption. Well it's back out because last week we were approved to begin an international home study by a new adoption agency, Adoption-Link. So little brother or sister, aged 0-2 years old, here we come!!!!

NEXT STEPS: We'll be assigned a social worker. Then we'll be able to pass that info on the MLJ Adoptions, our international agency, and sign their service agreement.
PRAISE: That we are now able to begin the paperwork process! We are trusting God for His perfect timing and will.
PRAYER: That all would go fairly easy in scheduling times to meet with the social worker (our schedule's not quite as open as before the boys were here!) and please pray, throughout the adoption, for the little boy or girl who the Lord knows but we do not yet. Pray also for their first family.

Wordless Wednesday

2/15/12 - Metcha Day Anniversary!

Two years ago today, our lives were changed for the better.

We stood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and watched a white van pull into our agency's younger children's transition house and inside that van were two little boys we had been waiting a lifetime to meet.

And oh how much they have brought to my life: pure and simple joy, pride in their accomplishments, frustration ("Why won't you just obey my words the first time!?" wonder how often the Lord says that to me?), the beauty of seeing life through the eyes of children, a sense of how awesome God is and how He is always at work even in the small details, humbleness that this was His plan for me, realization of my own selfishness, one adventure after another (and an adventure can simply be used empty boxes to make a fort or reading a book from the library together!), peace in knowing they are the perfect children for our family, and excitement in all the future holds for them and for us as a family.

The adoption process is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. It was filled with waiting, disappointments, frustration, and hardship. However, they joy at the end - John Michael Eyob and Ryan Elijah Ephrem - FAR outweighed anything in the process. I would walk through it again in a second. I am truly blessed.

Annoucing .... a "Cards" Funraiser!

If you know me at all, I am not one of those people who enjoys selling "stuff" as a fundraiser. Not that any of that "stuff" is bad or not a great fundraiser for schools or organizations, but unless it's Girl Scout cookies, I'm taking a pass!

But then I saw these amazing cards at a vendor table when we attended the MLJ Adoptions Conference in Indianapolis last September (and believe me, the pictures do not due their cuteness justice!):

There are two sets - a kids set and an all occasion set. Each set contains 30 cards and matching envelopes along with a keepsake boxes. And each set is only $30.00, which includes shipping and handling! That's right, 30 cards for $30 which comes out to a dollar a card! These are the kind of embellished cards you'd pay 5 or 6 dollars for at the store.

I am very excited to announce these as our next fundraiser!! They will be available for viewing at our Cheesecake Tasting Open House on February 12th and I will be accepting orders from now until Sunday, February 19th. I will be placing the order on the 20th, and the cards will arrive at my house in about 2 weeks. Then I will deliver them to you or arrange a pick up time. Please let me know if you are interested!!

We will make approximately $10 a box and our goal is to sell enough boxes to cover the cost of our I600A application to USCIS - this is the form will fill out to request permission from the United States to adopt an orphan and the $720 fee that goes with it.

Activity of the Week: Community Helpers Theme

We'll usually do a couple projects a week that coincide with the theme at Ryan's preschool. He's been talking about community helpers, a theme I never taught in preschool, and so I am loving it!

We began by creating a web of community helpers. I brainstormed with the boys, different community helpers and we found pictures of them to print off. I knew this would be a good way to help Ryan prepare for his week at school too. He has several language issues, one of which being he'll know the person being talked about but might not know their title: "this is the person we go to visit twice a year and they clean your teeth and give you a new toothbrush and you get to pick a prize" but not know the word "dentist." Then once the word dentist is introduced to him, he might need several reminders of the word. So we hung the posters on the wall at their eye level.

Then I had an idea to make stand up figures of different community helpers. The boys added faces and clothes and then glued on accessories. (If you're interested in the templates, let me know and I can email them to you!)

Another fun activity was the "Shape Mailbox Delivery" game. I had six different shapes (circle, square, rectangle, triangle, oval, and diamond) and I taped one of each to the bottom of a cardboard box. Then I cut slits above each shape and I put the rest of the shapes in the "mail bag." Ryan spent lots of time delivery the mail to all the correct slots!

Wordless Wednesday