Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Update on Baby Roland

After three long months of not hearing anything, we finally received an update on our little Roland. It was really hard going that long without hearing anything at all about our baby. Without regular updates, the whole thing starts to seem less real and it feels like nothing is really going on and the idea of a baby starts to fade. You start to wonder what you are doing with your life and why you are putting yourself through all this. But, once you receive a new picture all of that motivation comes soaring back. It reminds you that there is an actual real life child out there that is waiting just for you. And that makes everything more than worth it.

We are not sharing pictures of Roland online yet, so you will just have to trust me when I say he is very cute and adorable and looking at him makes you just want to pick him up and squeeze him and kiss his little cheeks that are slowly becoming chubby (or maybe that is just me). We think it's funny that they have him bundled up in a blanket even though it's probably 80- something degrees outside. The poor boy is going to be chilly when he moves in with us.

We also received an actual medical report on him. Unfortunately, the doctor's handwriting is really awful and it is written in French so most of it is incomprehensible. It is really a shame because we receive so little information on our baby and a doctor took the time to write things about him, but we can't understand it. I'm not even sure a person who can read French could make out all of it. One thing we did understand on the report is his weight. He is still smaller than he should be, but he is less small for his age than he was back in April. We are happy he is making progress. He is gaining weight and based on his pictures he looks pretty happy and healthy so we feel comfortable saying the nannies are taking good care of him.

There are more and more delays in the adoption process, and it's getting pretty ridiculous, so please pray that Roland and all the other waiting children in Congo can come home to their families as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lookout Butte

Yesterday was yet another hot one here in Kamiah so we decided to drive out in the woods and up over 4,000 feet in elevation to Lookout Butte. It is a 60- foot high fire lookout tower, originally built in 1923, while the current one was built in 1962. You can actually rent the "cabin" on top of the tower and spend the night there. I think that would be quite the fun and unique experience, but you really have to make sure you have what you need and hunker down when it gets dark because I wouldn't want to walk down those 60 feet of steep stairs at night (not quite sure what to do when you have to use the outhouse...).

It was a mini adventure for us to find this lookout tower. We have some sort of annoying issue with forest roads- whenever there is a choice to make, we somehow always choose the wrong one. The regular wood signs directing people to the tower were down for some reason. In their place were paper plates with "lookout tower" written in PENCIL! They could not even take the time to scrounge up a Sharpie. One paper plate sign was actually just laying on the ground with a rock on top of it. We never even saw these "signs" until we had already exhausted all other road options and had finally decided to try the correct route on our own. Seriously, whoever was in charge of putting up temporary signs to the lookout should receive some sort of disciplinary action because he did a very poor job and we ended up wasting a lot of time and gas.

The scenery and cooler weather were very nice, but the most exciting part of the day was our wildlife sightings. Even though Idaho is full of wildlife, we see disappointingly few animals besides deer. In places like Denali or Yellowstone, there are wide open spaces perfect for viewing wildlife, but in a heavily forested place like where we live you can pretty much only see animals when they run across the road right in front of your car. Yesterday, as we were driving near the top of the mountain we saw a black bear! This is the first black bear we have seen in the Kamiah area (and we have lived here 4 years).  Then, on the way back down the mountain we saw a bobcat! This is only the second bobcat I've seen in my life (the first one was surprisingly in a Florida state park when I was a kid). It was pretty amazing to see both a black bear and a bobcat in the same day. We unfortunately don't have any pictures of them because we only saw each of them for a few seconds as they darted in front of us. We just have to keep the memory of them etched in our minds.

Here are the pictures we do have from the trip:
 bear paw prints in dried mud (we at least have evidence there are bears in the area, since we don't have a picture of the actual bear we saw)

 Two snakes hanging out together
 the steep stairs going up to the cabin at the top
 the view from the top of the tower
 It took us so long to find it that we saw the beginning of sunset from the top of the tower.

Lookout Butte Fire Tower

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Surviving Summer....without melting

We have not been getting out and exploring as much as I wanted this summer. Every year I have such grand plans of all the things we are going to see and do, but then life somehow always gets in the way. One of the biggest problems this year is the weather. It has been between 95 and 100 degrees ALL SUMMER- and we are NOT heat- loving people. In fact, all of the places we have lived since becoming adults (Alaska; Vermont; McCall, ID) we have chosen for their cool weather. However, life has somehow managed to get us to live in one of the hottest areas in Idaho. The Clearwater River Valley is so hot it is known as Idaho's Banana Belt. Our humidity is low, which makes the heat more comfortable I guess, but it also makes us research forest fire activity before we go anywhere. This even hotter- than- usual summer forces us to only go to places several thousand feet higher in elevation (which is a long drive) or to go out during the last hour before it gets completely dark in order to enjoy more bearable temperatures.

Another situation getting in the way of my outdoor plans is the fact that Matt was been working an awful lot and he actually wants to rest some on his days off (weird, huh?). One of his fellow officers received a powerful punch to the face while working, causing several broken bones in the jaw area. Of course this officer will not be working again for a while. Matt works for a very small police department so whenever one officer is not working, it makes things busier for everybody else. Also, on our weekends chores keep popping up, including fixing our Jeep's window regulator and our slow progression of putting the nursery together.

We do manage to get out once in a while:

Our little polar bear trying to stay cool

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Benefits of Not Being First

I did not think I would get to a point where I would be writing this post, but there is quite a bit of craziness going on. I have done plenty of whining about not being included in the last US Embassy investigation, but a part of me is becoming relieved. Things are not going well for that group of families from my agency, who are among the first who went through the new investigation procedures. Paperwork is lost, the children's passports are not ready on time, and their appointments are being pushed back. There are vast miscommunications between our agency and the embassy and other Congolese officials. Adoptive families are losing money because they have to change or cancel their plane tickets. They are also having a hard time finding a place to stay in Congo. Kinshasa is a large city, but there are few hotels that are affordable and safe. To limit the choices more, some hotels do not allow adoptive families to stay there. Some families have had their bags packed for weeks and are still not allowed to travel. When they do get to go to Congo, they do not know when they will be allowed to leave to come home again.

 The stress that these families are going through is horrible. Unfortunately there is never a point in the adoption process that once we reach it, it is just easy sailing from there on. We have to fight for our children until the moment we bring them through our front door. I must say I am a little relieved to not be in the "guinea pig" group and hopefully everybody will learn from all this craziness. I hope the US Embassy learns how to make the process smoother and quicker. I also hope our agency will hire more reliable and hard working people on the Congo side of things. The one guy they have now is extremely overwhelmed at this point. Of course I am willing to go through all these hardships and stress to get to my son. However, since being in this first group is not an option, I can sit back and try to learn what I can and be as prepared as possible and hope things are better by the time it is my turn. (And all the while I am praying that my two worst fears will not happen: that our son will not die while we wait and that the Congo adoption program does not close).