So as I wait out the last weeks of this wacky, seemingly endless wait, I need to keep in mind the following things:


1. I’m not missing out on anything. The Lord has planned out all the days we get with Violet as a family. Apparently those days aren’t supposed to start yet. It’s ugly to think about that. But it’s all I’ve got at the moment. As much as I would like her to be with us already, she’s really ok where she is. I mean, if you have to be in an orphanage, her’s is the best place to be. They have a new therapy room, full of bright new toys looking out on a peaceful “back yardish” sort of place with trees. She’s well cared for, by people who’ve loved her well for almost 2 years. They are truly her fist family in some ways.

2. There’s actually no one to blame. In all honesty, I’ve directed some negative emotion in the last few days at the Facilitor in Poland, but I don’t know if thats really fair. I mean, sure, I think there should be two of her, but I really don’t know if our paperwork has been looked it in the court system. And it’s easter, and John Paul is being canonized. I’m pretty sure the whole very catholic country is in a tizzy right now. But here’s to hoping that judge  will be sitting at his desk, thinking about how he’d rather just be somewhere else, and then happen to let his gaze fall on mine and Alex’s ugly mugs in our passport pictures and say to himself, “If I have to look at this horrible looking American, and this random Russian guy anymore, I might lose my mind.” and then just stamp something official and give it back to the facilitor. But whatevs. I also imagine to myself that he spilled tea on our file, and ruined all our paperwork, and cant bring himself to tell the facillitator. Who knows. But thinking up likely scenarios keeps me from negative rumination.

3. I have this time to do what I want! And I’ve decided that lev and I are going to work on some prewriting/writing skills and some phonics. And go to the zoo, and watch too much TV, and basically yuck it up before we go to Poland. I love his little voice, how he climbs on my lap and talks about Violet, about his trains, and how he sees the world. I’ll miss it when it’s not just the 2 of us anymore, but it’s going to be super fun when VIolet finally get here.  It’s also  been fun sitting down for just a few minutes every day and learning to have a greater control over pens and crayons and sounding out letters and stuff. And in the meantime, I’ve gone back to “working”. I’ve have some fun new clients, and I’m very excited about it all. Today I blogged a wedding I worked at with a friend, and these were two of my images:


Those are cookies and cream cupcakes people. COOKIES AND CREAM. I love weddings for many reasons, but down near the bottom of the list is that I get to sample really yummy food.

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At the very least, doing mundane marketing tasks for my studio takes the edge off the wait. I’m not sure what’s in store for my studio for next year, especially now that I’ve gotten two small kids under 4 soon to be in my house, but I know that life will be fuller and richer. Photographing weddings makes my life a little busier, but also a little fuller. I’m actually really thankful for it in these last couple of weeks. I’ve missed it, but now I’m glad I started to take a couple of sessions.



In which I give up and go back to my photography.

Well, last Monday I decided that I was over this rediculous wait of ours, especially the people who say they are going to send stuff and don’t. I’m WAY over that. So we planned a trip to the beach. And since I’ve taken some time off of all of my photography, and it was all for nothing (even though the break was nice) I decided to take some bookings. I’m still not commissioning my own weddings, and won’t until the end of  the year, but I’ve taken on some new clients who should be a lot of fun to work with. I’m hoping it will take my mind off the ballyhoo (or lack there) of that I find myself in.

So in the meantime, we went out town to the beach this last weekend for our anniversary. And we’re going to the mountains next weekend, and I might head into Virginia the weekend after that to have a session with a nice looking couple. And there’s 15 preschoolers in cute little caps and gowns  that I’ll be photographing this week. I’m working on a contract for another job, but I have to write this thing  in a particular way becuase no one seems to know when this wait will be over, and the client’s like “I don’t get it. How can you not know? Can’t you just call someone?” And I’m like, “I can see how this is all very unsettling. I’m very unsettled about it myself. But I can assure you that if I am still in the country I will personally be there myself. And in the even that I am not, a well qualified, well vetted associate will be there in my place. The associate will be named in the contract, and under contract with me so that I can be assured that there will be coverage at your event”.

And it’s a good thing this client likes me because that contract almost tanked right there at noon today.   I keep telling myself that this is all just temporary chaos. I don’t know if I believe that at this point. At one o’clock, in effort to relieve this clients worry, I call the agency and ask about the time line, and of course, no one knew anything, and then thankfully, we got disconnected before I  could get crabby. And becuase I have clients to work with and trail mix to emotionally eat, I didn’t bother calling back.

The contract is ok for the moment. And if it’s not, then it’s not. People always ask me how they can pray for us, so if you’re praying with us, you can pray that when we finally get back to Poland, that I will be gracious to the facilitator. I work very hard to remember that she is BUSY. She works for more than one agency, and her time often gets taken up with various people and their problems, or by translation or paperwork, or whatever. But today was the first day I felt negative emotion and directed it at an actual person, which is slightly unfair of me. I don’t know that she’s really the reason. But either way, I need to remain cool, and the Lord has been very kind to help me remain rather calm and reasonably well put together, with only mild freak outs. I don’t know that people at our agency would agree, but considering that the week Lev was born, when I cried all day. everday  and didn’t sleep for a week, I’m doing spectacularly well.  I’m about to end my office hours for this afternoon, but to “reward” you for still reading this blog, and praying with us, and generally being good sports about our odyssey,  even though i currently have nothing to show for it but this pitiful blog, I’ll share some some images from our weekend. We love being outdoors, and spending time together as a family. We’re looking forward to when Violet is ready to go to the beach.

emerald aisle 2013-11 emerald aisle 2013-22 emerald aisle 2013-10 emerald aisle 2013-9 emerald aisle 2013-7 emerald aisle 2013-5 emerald aisle 2013-4 emerald aisle 2013-21 emerald aisle 2013-19 emerald aisle 2013-3 emerald aisle 2013-16 emerald aisle 2013-18 emerald aisle 2013-13 emerald aisle 2013-12

emerald aisle 2013-15

Lev is “Hulking” here. He made Alex be the Sand Man and bury him in the sand, and he hulked himself to get out. Good times with my hulk obsessed 3 year old.

Both Hands Project Part 2

It’s been a while since I talked about our Both Hands project. I’m still thinking about it and tossing it around in my mind. So this will probably be one of those posts that doesn’t really have a point and just wanders from here to there and back again. It’s been hard for me to verbalize all the things I feel, and it’s easier to to make a crack about something or be self deprecating. But I’ve been trying to avoid rather unsuccessfully, doing either of those things, and the result has been silence on the blog.

But anyways, the Both Hands Project. I liked this project for many reasons:

1. It’s service based- You serve a widow for a day and raise money for your adoption at the same time.

2. As far as I know, No one really gets rejected from the Both Hands Project. You send in your application, and get accepted and “simply”  follow the instructions in the materials they send you. Obviously there are some challenges, but it’s nothing too hard to overcome.

3. The amount of money you earn is based entirely on how well you promote your project and how many letters you send you. Each person on our team sent out between 3 and 15 letters. We sent out one to everyone on our christmas list which was about 40-50 people. This is genuinely the hardest part. We had very conservative goals for this project and blew right past them. I was totally shocked when I saw how much people had donated for our adoption.

Challenges and tips:

We had some pushback from people about weird things, which totally irritated and frustrated me. But I moved past that because I had no other choice. Don’t let the people rain on your parade.

We originally just had 1 widow. But there were changes in her circumstances, and we were able to find a second widow, and even help a 3rd. So that was pretty awesome. MOre than one Widow on a single project day was hard  to plan, but we had smaller projects a lot of people so it worked out well.

Don’t plan on working if you’re the coordinator. I spent all day running around organizing, moving people around, and chatting with widows and super curious neighbors.

Know your limits. I had to stress that we needed smaller projects. We can’t build decks, demolish walls, etc. So the projects we did were moving, cleaning, yardwork and minor landscaping. We basically did some freshening up in time for spring. We rented a uHaul truck, and our volunteers supplied tools and garbage bags, and we bought everyone lunch. That was about the extent of our expenditures for the project. We spent about $500 total on materials, a baby sitter for the small babies and toddlers, and on postage and printing for the letters we sent out.

In our letters, we put a postage paid envelope back to the Both Hands Foundation, and broke down our goal on a small paper we tucked in with our letter. WE told everyone that we’d reach our goal if everyone sponsored someone for $30. Some people donated more, and some less, but we made 80% of our goal and I’ve heard there’s a few more donations coming in and being posted. We’re really amazed becuase as I said above, we had very conservative goals.



Living out that verse in the Bible about bearing one another’s burdens is very cool. All the women we served were so incredibly thankful, and it was really eye opening how much help so many people need. A lot of people, including myself also commented on how this work day is really the way community should be- coming together to help alleviate people’s needs. And we all had fun doing it. A lot of us don’t get to hang out very often, and coming together to chat and do something worthwhile was FUN.

We’re almost fully funded for Violet’s adoption. It’s really amazing to me that the Lord would provide so fully for us this way. It took a LOT of courage to do this project. I almost didn’t do it becuase I thought, Meh, we got this other grant from SHow Hope, which was really unexpected and such a blessing. But people pointed out to me that doing the Both Hands Project is also a blessing to us and to people we can serve. And it was. I’m so glad I did it.

So, for all the adoptive parents out there looking for funding, this is a good thing. It takes some work, and it takes some courage, but you can do it and it’s a proven excellent fundraiser. We set a goal of $3000, even though had a greater need ($10,000 and smidge more) and we’ve raised almost $8,000. I was blown away when we received our current total of donations. BLOWN. AWAY.  We stand a very excellent chance of owing very little or even NOTHING on VIolets adoption. It almost knocks me over every time I think about it.

You can see our project page HERE

We had to make a video about our day, which I’ve embedded here. It’s not an oscar winning endeavor. But we think it gives a good overview of our day. Enjoy!

I am not losing my mind. I promise.

The last few weeks of the adoption have seen action. And while I’d love to say that we’re merely limping across the finish line, we’re not. We’re still going strong and in good spirits despite all that you’ll read about below. Nothing about our adoption or Violet has changed. We’re still glad we’re doing this becuase that little girl is totally worth it.

I should say that this is actually kind of funny to me. I can’t think of another family any of this would happen to except us. All of things you are about to read are real, and names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Our lives really are this ridiculous. I’m laughing to myself as I write this. “Smooth” is not a word that describes adoption. Eliminate that word from your adoption verbiage.

about 8 weeks ago, the agency says to me, “Hey, we think you should get your USCIS fingerprints done to extend your approval so we dont run into problems at the embassy. Sure, I say, no problem. So I send the email, get the date.

But in the meantime, the polish clerk of court has rejected my physical because someone, probably me, wrote my married name not my legal name that’s in my passport on the form (why I never changed my name after getting married is a long story involving eastern european politics, the USCIS, and the fall of communism. True story.). “Can you go to the dr’s office and have it changed?” Sure, I say, no problem.

Are we seeing a pattern yet?

But it is a problem. Becuase the Dr. doesn’t want to do it. Something about legal ramifications. So i make an appointment, gather my adoption box, a picture of violet, and go in there the next day and tell my sad tale. Alex comes with me, ready to intimidate with his (not really very) scary Russian accent. The agency is on hold on my phone, ready to fight with me, but miraculously, it all works out. He just whites out my name, writes it correctly, writes a short note just in case, charges me the copay and sends me on my way.

I could have done that myself for free. But whatever. I’m moving on. The high road and all that.

Are you still tracking with me? Let’s go skip forward, back to the fingerprints. We showed up last Thursday at the USCIS. Lev objects as usual to being wanded at the USCIS (we’re libertarians, against such things. He learned it mostly from me, that pesky protest of a perceived invasion of privacy). Fortunately, everyone thought it was cute. Then I had to sit under a photo of the current president, which I didn’t really appreciate, becuase again, I’m mostly a libertarian and we’re against big government and so on). And then, when they start scanning my fingers, there’s a lot of beeping, and they say,”You might be missing parts of your fingerprints. It’s called effacing.”

Naturally, I get an email 2 days later, from Gretchen, Violets USCIS caseworker. She’s actually super cool. “Your prints are unclassifiable”, she says. “I’m sending a new appt. You can just try to walk in an see what they say, but if theyre rejected again, you’ll need to get a letter from your local police station.” I”m glad she told me this. She’s the nicest immigration person I’ve encountered in 12 years of slumming it at USCIS. I’d totally be her friend in real life.

THese last few weeks have been annoying. It’s enough to make me take up smoking and sit on the couch with a whiskey on the rocks and say “WHATEVERRRRRRRRRR”. Except that I’ve never had whiskey, or smoked. And now I understand why some people do. That’s all I’m saying.


THe orpahange sent us new pictures of violet. She’s adorable as always. She’s also starting to walk and eat solid food. Double awesome. I can’t wait to get back to her. Those pictures are keeping me going. I put them in my drop box so I can look at them on my phone tablet or computer anytime I want, and I look at them a ton and pray for her and for us, and for miraculous healing of my fingerprints.

We’re still going to get her and bring her home. We’re going SOON. I’m in mostly good spirits.

Rumor has it that we’re getting a letter from the Polish court on Friday, which means in eastern european time that it will show up sometime 2 weeks after that. Or it could just show up on friday, right on schedule. It’s all kind of a crap shoot. Its also not helpful that Pope JOhn Paul II is being canonized soon and everyone in Poland is all excited about it. I hope they all remember that both Pope Francis and JOhn Paul would tell them that giving orphans parents is more important that being canonized. I genuinely think they were both cool enough to at least care that an orphan is missing out her family because of them. I don’t know.

or maybe I could just write to Pope Francis. He probably wouldn’t reply because we’re not catholic. But he might if I wrote in Spanish. La Raza and all that. Sort of.

Whatever. It is what is. I tell myself that everyday. I also tell myself that the Lord wrote this story. None of this is shocking Him. But I’m very thankful the Lord has allowed me to remain mostly calm with a minimal amount of tears and negativity and whining. THe Lord is good to us and faithful to keep us going and bringing us updates on Violet just when I want and need them.

Also, I should say that I’m not mad at the agency. None of this is their fault. They are very organzied and efficient, and  they’ve been very supportive and very nice when I call. I’ve found that being super nice and understanding gets more info than if I was grumbly.  I’m really glad that we used them for our adoption, and would totally use them again if we do a 3rd adoption. After a long break from paperwork of any sort, that is.

We’ll keep updating as we know more. THe end is NEAR!