Saturday, August 31, 2013

Adoption Update II

In one of those "laugh or cry" moments so common in government offices, Jake said that I should be writing about all the ups and downs of this latest round of paperwork. There just hasn't been a lot of time to do so. In my limited free time I'm either reading a book on childbirth (I have some veryyy interesting ones, thanks to recommendations from friends) or catching up on sleep! Some nights I sleep better than others depending on how comfortable I can get, but naps are HEAVENLY. :)
So, as I mentioned in my last post on the adoption, I was given another list of paperwork "homework" by the lawyer. Two weeks later we have almost all of the documents in hand!! What a great feeling of accomplishment. It's a little bit more of a challenge to get done because of Jake's work schedule. At least as a teacher he goes in early and leaves earlier than a lot of people, but we just have an hour or two to run around before offices close. I do what I can without him, but he has to go in personally to present or pick up papers. 

Those who live in Bolivia can imagine what an exercise in patience the whole process is. We had a chuckle last week where in the same building, at one point we needed TWO copies of papers where only ONE had been requested, and then just one where they had asked for two! This is why I've learned to just make a lot of copies here.

On the day we took in our documents to immigration for the "certificado de visa", mine were rejected because of one word that needed to be changed on the lawyer's memo. Since my visa is permanent (versus Jake's, which is for one year), my paperwork would need to go to La Paz instead of being done here in Cochabamba. So the next morning I went back to the lawyer, got her to change the memo, then returned to immigration. I thought it would be a pretty smooth trip since we figured out exactly how to do it the day before with Jake, after being sent to the wrong office or window a couple of times, but just as I got up to the "caja" to pay, the employees noted that the computer system had gone down. As I waited for it to come back up, I heard others say that the system was also down in La Paz. I think I waited 20 minutes to be able to continue the process, which really isn't bad. Sometimes you have to wait till the next day.

We picked up Jake's visa certificate two days ago but mine will take at least a month since it was sent to the capital.

We have picked up our local background checks after an interesting wait where the one man in charge kept going through the list of names to a room full of people, although many of our names were not in his stack of papers. Finally we were able to talk to him during a lull of name-calling and ask that he find ours. He asked why we waited so long to return (6 days past the day they would supposedly be done). But who would've believed that they would actually be ready the day he said?!

Then we had a scare as we immediately noticed the big stamp in the corner "not valid for judicial purposes". Uh, that's exactly what we need these for, for the minor court and a judicial process! I asked the man helping by the door what we should have done differently, to have the check stand up in court, and he sent us back to the grumpy guy calling names. When we finally got his attention, he explained that these documents were fine for an adoption. Shew!!

Now on Monday, I will go back to the lawyer for a memo that we will present together in court that afternoon. We will be asking the court to check on the work of SEDEGES, the ones who initially spent 30 days evaluating us to kick-start the whole adoption process. We traveled the day after that (June 13), and even though they had 15 days to get their reports in, I found out last week that these 2 1/2 months have not been long enough for the psychologist and social worker to finish our report and get it in!! We can't continue on to the next step, with the court's psychologist and social worker, until SEDEGES does their work. So, not surprisingly, that's a set-back for us.

Meanwhile, our second oldest turned TEN on August 23! Some friends were already putting on a party for the homes that day, so we celebrated A and volunteer Lindsey's birthday. Here are a few good pictures of the afternoon:


Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday Trip to "El Cristo"

After a couple of very rainy, cloudy days (yes, during dry season!), we didn't think we would follow through with our plans to go up to "El Cristo", a statue of Christ overlooking Cochabamba. But by the time Jake finished preaching at church yesterday, the sky started to clear, revealing a breath-taking snowfall on many of the mountains surrounding us!

The statue was actually open this time, so we climbed up the stairs within the Christ statue. Jake got this picture of mountains through one of the "peep holes".

Another view of the mountains from the base of El Cristo

  Majestic peaks over our city...

Jake and Taylor at the base of "El Cristo". 

Taylor lives in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and is visiting us for a week in Cochabamba. He's a sort of very distant cousin of Jake...

Wayyy down there is the big square rock that Jake found for us to sit on before he proposed to me last year. :)

On "the rock" again! What special memories!!

Proposal evening, 10 1/2 months ago

Wedding day, almost 9 months ago

My, how things can change in a year!!

That evening, I made a new recipe for the 3 of us (well, 3 1/2!)...

Mexican Chocolate Cake! I stumbled across mascarpone cheese last week and used it in the creamy icing, yum.

And a few more pictures of the beautiful views we've had, thanks to the rain and drop in temperature...

Last night's sunset, as seen from our living room

The view this morning, also from our living room

Monday, August 19, 2013

Adoption Update

Since April we've been in the process of adopting our three boys, ages 9, 10, and almost 10. My "important dates" file now lists 26 separate events in the adoption. And... We're probably half way through the paperwork part!

While in Washington, we sent off money orders, pre-paid envelopes, cover letters, and notarized and/or certified birth or marriage certificates to four different locations: the states of Florida, Texas, Washington, and the Bolivian Consulate in Los Angeles, CA.

It was quite the challenge to figure out the requirements and get everything prepared just right with no internet access or printer at the cabin! But apart from having to order a newer birth certificate from Texas, we seem to be on the right track.

In a few more days I'll call the consulate in LA to make sure that all of our documents eventually arrived from around the country. Then they will send everything to my family, who will send everything to the next volunteer coming to Bolivia.

Meanwhile, I checked in with our lawyer last week, and she said she'd been looking for me. She gave me a list of four more sets of documents Jake and I need to obtain. We had already done one item on the list, the judicial background check, so now we're in the middle of the next three: police background check, work certificate, and visa certificate.

And to my slight consternation, she again insisted that the boys need to arrive before the baby (today I'm at 7 months). She says that legally, since the boys are older, they need to arrive before there's a newborn, to keep the "birth order" in line. Yikes!!! We need to move from our condo to a house with a yard before they come, and we had hoped that our baby could be born first - and maybe even have our first anniversary before welcoming three more children into our family!

Jake and I have several thoughts on this. First of all, a fast guardianship happens within 4-5 months of beginning paperwork. We, however, are requesting THREE children, all different cases (no siblings), and going directly to adoption because all three have been adoptable for years ("cases closed", so to speak, with no chance of relative involvement later on). If the local court and La Paz and our lawyer can actually push this through as incredibly fast as the lawyer says is necessary, with NO DELAYS, well then.... Go for it, we say! Could we have Bolivia's fastest adoption ever?! 

Secondly, our court is on winter vacation for the month of August. We won't be able to present our official adoption request to the court (and thus re-start our process that's been "resting" while we were traveling) until Monday, September 2.

Thirdly, I know that many times I've been disappointed in Bolivia when the court system does not act "reasonably", but we find it hard to believe that just because we could have a baby when we're reaching the end of the whole adoption process, that the court would all of a sudden deny us the boys on this technicality. We are still confiding in that the judge who originally offered me A. last year in January, and this year in January was very pleased to hear my husband and I now desired to adopt him plus two more, will still be happy to continue with the process even with a baby in the picture.

All three of the boys are definitely "waiting children" with next to no hope of obtaining a family, both because of their age and because of their history of rejection by other families. Then you add to that no international adoptions... Their files are just gathering dust in a corner of the court office!

Ultimately, our comfort and hope in ALL the unknowns of the next few months rests in knowing that GOD is in control and knows exactly when each child will be added to our family. We trust in his perfect timing. If all four come within days of each other, we'll just have to depend on Him for strength and wisdom!

We'd appreciate your prayers! :)

"He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." I Thessalonians 5:24

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Breakfast

Even though I love cooking in general, breakfast is still one of my favorites to make! I was on Pioneer Woman's website the other day looking for a recipe and came across one for Apple Fritters.

Now I have never fried ANYthing, always baking instead, but this last time in the states I realized that Jake will choose an apple fritter over any kind of donut. And apples are currently in season here, tasty and cheap.

Sooo, I sacrificed and made him a batch. :-)

The recipe was (too) easy! Find it here!

Gooey goodness!! Fried food is really something. How could something that tastes SO good and fresh be bad for you?!

Of course these were chock full of fresh apples so not entirely devoid of nutrition, but I tried to redeem it somewhat with scrambled eggs and big glasses of freshly squeezed (by the strong husband) orange juice. We love all the fresh, relatively cheap produce available everywhere here!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Highlights of 42 Days of Travel: Washington, Part II

The last week of our 6 weeks of travel was spent in Chelan, Washington, Jake's piece of paradise on earth. :)

Our drives over the Northern Cascade Mountains were beautiful! I'd been told that Washington has spectacular scenery and finally got to see it for myself.

Imagine driving along forests and lakes like this for hours on end on highways in Texas!

On our first drive over the mountains, heading towards North Central Washington, Jake had planned a special stop-off for us. We did the Blue Lake hike, a 1000 foot steady climb to the prettiest lake I've ever seen.

He's done it several times but I bet this time took the longest with his pregnant wife - three hours round-trip. But we did it - all three of us! :)

It was a special surprise to come upon a herd of wild mountain goats grazing

The only good picture of us at Blue Lake before we resumed mosquito swatting!! I have never seen them in swarms like on this hike, and even though I was bit once through my shirt, they really ate up Jake.

We pulled into the cabin in Chelan later that day, around 10pm on July 15. This sign gives you an idea of why I said Bolivia had prepared me for the 15 minute drive from Chelan up to the cabin!

Deer, quail, and wild turkeys are often sighted around the cabin.

Jake set up chairs on the back deck and that was one of my favorite spots.

This was our ride while in Chelan, Jake's Isuzu Trooper:

He painted the Bolivia flag on two doors even before moving down last year. Mice have taken up residence in the car since then, which made for some interesting experiences. :)

One of my best memories of our week at the cabin was sleeping out on the deck under the stars and a full moon.

A romantic dinner for two (well, 2 1/2) with an atmosphere every bit as wonderful as what we experienced in Italy! Jake even brought out a stereo system and put on classical music.

Jake, Jen, and Moonbeam at the cabin, July 19, 2013: 6 month baby bump picture!

Definitely one of the top unexpected highlights for me in Washington was getting to watch Jake do the annual Chelan Man race on one of the last days of our trip. He had decided near the beginning of our travels to not do it even though he was signed up, seeing as how he wasn't exactly training throughout our packed itinerary. But somehow between me and the race registration lady (when he tried to just pick up the t-shirt), he changed his mind! I just didn't want him to regret not even trying, PLUS I knew he was still very strong. He rides his bike to and from work every day, likes to peddle and hike up our surrounding mountains, and goes to the gym 3 times a week.

Setting up his bike the day before

On Saturday, we got up early to go support Jake's friend in the Iron Man, and also volunteered at the refreshment booth  run by Jake's former hospital co-workers. It was a neat community feel as everyone came out to race or support the racers.

The next day, we got up even earlier for Jake's triathlon. His parents were with us at the cabin by this time and they joined us a little later.

 Jake is the one in the red baseball cap. :)

Jake's run consisted of a half mile swim in cold Lake Chelan (his favorite), 13 mile bike ride (piece of cake), and a 3 mile run (or jog, as the case may be). Out of 330 competitors, he came in number 61 on the swim, 81 on the bike, and then 143rd place overall. That's well within the top half, and we had just eaten our way through a wonderful vacation for the past six weeks! I'm so proud of him!!

The finish line stretch! 

People were cheering for “Mr. Alaska”, assuming he’d come all the way from Alaska for the race. We decided that next time, he needs to race in a shirt from Bolivia!

After the race, we had a snack in a park then went straight to church. Jake was asked to speak at the end and we had a very warm welcome. He wasn't even as exhausted and sore as usual since he hadn't tired his muscles with lots of training beforehand, so that was pretty cool.

The next day, we drove back over the mountains to the Beaty's house in Chehalis. We got a two hour nap that night in between packing and then started our long trek back to Bolivia.

Another scenic point of the road over the mountains (Mt. Rainier looms above). Jake, Jennifer, Thea Beaty - and our ride to and from the cabin, Jake's 1969 Ford Fairlane.

It's great to be back at home, but what a memorable trip we had, full of great times with great people in three different countries!!

The Highlights of 42 Days of Travel: Washington, Part I

Pretty quickly after first hearing from Jake last year in January, I discovered he was from Washington. (Actually via my mother, who just "happened" to desperately need his address to send a book for me before his trip!)

Not only had I never been to Washington State, I'd never been anywhere near! So it was pretty neat when finally, after 7 months of marriage, I got to see Jake's "neck of the woods"!

Lake Diablo, North Cascades Highway

We were in Washington for two whole weeks, longer than we were anywhere else, so we had rather naively thought this would be the restful part of our travels. HA, not exactly! We made tracks, spending around 24 hours total on road trips while there and staying very busy visiting with friends and Beatys. Still, it was great for me to get to see so much of Washington since we don't know when we'll be back.

Jake’s parents picked us up from the airport in Seattle and we headed to their beautiful home a couple hours south. They had spent all year planning a beautiful wedding reception for us for July 13.

Jake's parents and two cousins

Jake and his dad worked hard to get the awning hung correctly to provide shade on this beautiful deck. 

Even Jake met relatives he didn't know before. I think we visited with people non-stop from noon until midnight. It was quite the day!!

Jim & Thea Beaty, Jake & Jennifer Beaty

With the three nephews

(Thanks to Morgan Wieland for these last two pictures! She served with us in Bolivia in 2011 and created a beautiful DVD about Casa de Amor. It was great to see her again at the reception.)

Another favorite day in Chehalis was the girl's day out I had with Jake's mom, doing what else but clothes shopping and eating! Jake's mom was sooo excited to have the chance to take me baby and maternity clothes shopping. I'm gratefully using every piece of maternity clothing that we found! And our baby is set up for at least the first year of life. ;-)

As we planned our trip, I started to realize how many former Casa de Amor volunteers and friends I had in Washington state! It was great to get to meet up with them while visiting. (We also met up with lots of Jake's friends but there are no good group pictures.)

Pictures of a couple of Casa de Amor friend reunions:

Jake & Jennifer with Andrew & Jennifer, volunteers with Casa de Amor for over 4 months in 2008! 

When they lived in Chelan years ago they went to the same church Jake did before moving to Bolivia.

Enjoying a beautiful day on Lake Washington with Jonathan & Karin Schoenhals! They lived in Bolivia for six years and still support Casa de Amor and also our church (Cochabamba International Church) in various ways.

Jake and Jennifer on Lake Washington with Seattle in the background (Jake is wearing his Venetian gondolier shirt)

 NEXT we headed over the mountains to Jake's favorite place on earth, the cabin!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Highlights of 42 Days of Travel: Texas

It had been almost exactly two years since I’d been back in Texas, so it was pretty neat to be back. The best part was being there with my husband!! :)

And of course, it was awesome being with my family for a few days. They even picked us up from the airport after a full day of driving from Memphis. We've gotten spoiled in being together so frequently ever since Jake came into the picture!

It was pretty great for Jake to finally meet my grandparents (maternal) in East Texas! I loved that Jake was barely through their door before my grandma was cooing "bless your heart". Gotta love good southern talk! 


I always say that there's not much to see in Texas, it's the PEOPLE that make it a great place. I hope Jake saw that as we experienced the generosity of old friends and family our five days there! It was really nice to be able to stay with the Whisenant family in their beautiful McKinney home.

Jake and I had arrived from Italy on the evening of July 3, just in time for 4th of July festivities! (July 4th is also my sister Heather's birthday, but she had work the next day in Memphis so joined us the evening of July 5 in Texas.)

Waiting for the concert
(L-R: Emma, Jennifer, Jake, Betsy Whisenant) 

The Whisenants treated our family to a "Patriotic Pops Concert" on July 4th - so much fun! The baby moved a lot during the more energetic pieces and Emma got to feel her new niece/nephew. Definitely one of the highlights of our time in Texas!

Lighthouse Christian Fellowship (Prosper, Texas), Jennifer's home church, really rolled out the red carpet for us. It's always great to be back, although sometimes it's easy to miss the "good ol' days" when my family knew everyone. A lot has changed since we helped start Lighthouse in 2001 and it's great that there's been so much growth.

Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Children's Ministry

After the music, Jake and I were invited up to talk alongside Pastor David Vestal. He shared a bit about the early days of Casa de Amor, I followed up, and then Jake shared a bit of our story, at the same time giving a very encouraging message to singles or anyone feeling like God is not listening and doesn't care. Several people afterwards told him very sincerely how much his message touched their heart!

Then the kids did a special dance prepared with Casa de Amor in mind while our powerpoint rolled, and then Lena from Lighthouse shared about child sponsorship. By the time my family got back to the tables, I think half of the sponsorship packets were GONE! People were lined up to sponsor and ask questions. It was an amazing reception and really wonderful to gain so many new supporters at once!

Jennifer and the new children's pastor at Lighthouse chatting in Spanish

Heather visiting with parents of one of her former violin students

Jake manning the table

Also a definite highlight of our brief time in Texas was the fellowship time we had on Sunday evening for any friends and relatives in the area who wanted to come visit. We quickly ate some food and then talked to people for hours as they caught up with me and also met Jake. First they were checking him out, but I think he passed inspection. ;-)

I love hearing Jake talk and he did an excellent job of sharing "our story" yet again! 

Some of our guests

Katie & baby Nathan McBride, Jennifer, Emily Butts 

It was so neat to finally meet Katie McBride! She and her twin sister drove (with Katie's baby) all the way from Louisiana to the get-together. Katie did a fundraiser for Casa de Amor back in 2004, I think even before we had children, and has been a faithful supporter ever since. Wish we lived closer to each other!

We flew out of Texas the very next morning bound for a whole new land for me.... Washington!