The Adoption Journey of Chris and Lydia Bischoff

Four Weeks and Counting

by Lydia

Four weeks from right now, I should be in Latvia, for the LAST trip needed to finalize our adoption!!! We are all anxious and very ready to have this process completed! Chis and I have been working on this adoption for 14 months now, and the girls have been home for nearly 3 1/2 months. It’s an odd feeling, knowing they’re home, but it’s not really finished yet. Limbo is not a fun place to live.

But, 5 weeks from now we should already be on our return flight, probably in Houston going through immigration, waiting for the officer to slam his stamp on their passports and say, “Welcome Home.” :-)

And this part of the process will be finished!

But before we go, we have some things to take care of. Namely, we’re still raising money for the trip. We’re about $5785 shy of what we need… which when you think about it, it’s really amazing…. we started this journey needing about $40,000… and we’re down to just $5785?! God is so good!

We do have some fundraisers going on right now, and I’m embarrassed to say that one of then ends tomorrow (Tuesday)! (I just have not been able to get on here to update you! Grr!) But here’s the information!

This is a perfect time to get your early Christmas shopping started, and help us with our LAST trip to Latvia for our adoption! We have 2 opportunities for you right now. Pick your favorite, or shop both! And it’s all online! How does this help us? Both consultants are donating their profits to our Adoption Fund! Get your shopping done and help us at the same time!

1. Scentsy: What scents make your home feel like the holidays? Evergreen? Cinnamon? Cloves? Cider? Caramel? (My favorite scent right now is coconut lemongrass!) Do you love having candles but hate the smoke, the soot and worry about the flames? Here’s your answer! Scentsy has a wide range of scented wax and warming dishes. (Elegant, themed, and even wall plug-ins!) Today (Monday) there are some great deals going on, including some $5 plug-ins, which are so cute!!!!!

Go to https://trunyan.scentsy.us/Scentsy/ then, at the top you’ll see a place to choose the Bischoff Adoption Party! How simple? (Order buy October 15 – yes, tomorrow) Thank you for your help, Tanya!

2. Tastefully Simple: Is easy, yummy food more you style? Got a party you need to take some food to, but you’re just not the creative type? Do you enjoy cooking but really just want something easy to make for dinner? Do you wish someone could meal plan for you and make sure you’ve got all you need, and include the simple recipes? Then you need to check this out! Beverages, breads, sauces, desserts, dips, soups, just to name a few things available! There’s even some yummy looking gluten free mixes available! Everything I’ve tried from Tastefully Simple has been delicious. Why not give it a try? Thank you, Katerina, for your help!

Getting hungry? Head to www.tastefullysimple.com/web/kbarnett Fill up your virtual shoppung cart, and head to checkout. At the bottom right hand corner you can choose the host by searching for my name. Easy-peasy. (Order by November 2)

So there you go! Get some great scents for your home (and car and office and…) and plan your holiday menu at the same time! And help us finish our adoption! It’s a win/win! Also, everything can be shipped anywhere in the country!

If you have any questions, please let me know! (If you’re local to me, I have scent samples for Scentsy, so contact me!)

(And, as always, you can go to our page at the top and make a donation via PayPal! :-) )


Trip 2 Results

by Lydia

It’s pouring down rain and 54 degrees. I’m no longer in Texas, Toto. I arrived back in Riga on Tuesday afternoon after a solo flight over the ocean. We had expected that N would need to accompany me, as the norm is that any child over 12 needs to appear for second court. But, we had received word that our judge decided that she didn’t need to come at all! This was a big surprise and a very good sign!

My court appearance was Thursday morning, 2 hours from Riga. I wasn’t nervous until we arrived in the court room. It was more formal than I expected, even though others had told me it was quite formal. I was pleasantly surprised to see the girls’ social worker and Orphan Court representative were also there. We were able to share pictures and tell them how well the girls were doing. 
Before I knew it I was sitting next to a translator I had never met, and a man in long black robes and an elaborate, ornate gold necklace/collar walked in, and then it began. For the next 30 minutes I was questioned by the judge and prosecuting attorney over things like, “How do you know the girls want to be adopted?” (Um, because they told me?) and, “Why are you homeschooling them?” (Legally, they can’t attend public school, even if we wanted them to.) In all fairness, this was the first time our lawyer had ever worked with this court, so it’s possible this was the first foreign adoption in that region. I know the judge was just covering all the bases, but I went from freezing to sweating in minutes. I had this fear that if I said the wrong thing, or left something out, then he would deny our adoption. Then my lawyer had her turn to give all her reasons why the adoption should be granted. It was reassuring to hear her talk about my Latvian heritage, and mention how we speak basic Latvian and had lived in the country for 5 years, among other things. Then the social worker and Orphan Court representative shared their positive opinions about our family. This was all quite humbling to hear.

The judge finally left for a 10 minute recess and I felt I could breathe for a minute. My amazing lawyer assured me that everything was fine but I was still so nervous. Finally the judge returned and said the most amazing thing.

This court has decided that it is in the best interest of the children to be adopted.

He then read how the girls names will be changed and how their new birth certificates will be rewritten. In was in shock. My lawyer just kept smiling at me, and even then, I didn’t quite grasp what he was saying. He ended with, “Congratulations, and good luck,” and walked out.

And just like that, Chris and I became parents.

It finally started to sink in when everyone started to hug me.

That night I slept for 10 hours. It felt like I had just gone through labor. :-)

I leave on Tuesday morning to go home to my wonderful husband (who has been caring for the girls in the midst of some personal issues in our extended family), and MY DAUGHTERS!

Thank you, Jesus!

So, what’s next? Both girls and I will need to come back one more time. It looks like that will be in either late November (right before Thanksgiving) or early December. During this third, and final trip, we will take care of all of the immigiation issues. We’ll get their new birth certificates with my and Chris’ names on them (!), new passports, and new immigrant visas so that when they are admitted into the USA on our return trip, they will automatically be American citizens! This last trip will cost us about $7000, depending on plane ticket prices. We’ll be doing some more fundraisers, but as usual, you are always welcome to use the Donate tab to make a donation.

This would be completely impossible without the prayers and donations of you, our friends. Thank you for helping make this dream a reality!


Long Overdue Update

by Lydia

We’ve been home for nearly 2 months now (will be on the 29th). It seems so short and yet so long. The girls remark on how it seems we’ve been together forever. *smile* Gotta say, I love hearing that.

We’ve settled in quite well. The girls’ English is growing daily. N is on her second book of the Little House series (reading the first one, all 250 pages in about a week… in English!), and A is enjoying Little Critter books. Both are now gladly and excitedly going to youth group and Kid’s Club at church, and have remarked at how much they love our church and how awesome it is. :-)

Last week we started school. I’m homeschooling both of them for at least this year. We’ve got a mix of grade levels for each of them, trying to meet them in each subject right where they are. We’ve all settled into a home routine and, really, we’re doing remarkably well! That’s not to say we don’t have any issues… I mean, come on! We have a teenager and a preteen in the house! But we are blessed and haven’t run into anything that we can’t handle with the help and wisdom of the Lord. And, both girls call us Mom and Dad now, which is so amazing to hear, and they’re always ready for snuggling and family time. Their smiles are infectious!

On Saturday, our social worker came to interview us for a report that has to go to Latvia. (She also said it seemed like we’re all doing really well.) Her report will be translated and head to Latvia, hopefully, in the next 2 weeks.

If you remember, we also have to go back to Latvia for two more trips. The next trip is tentatively scheduled for September 14th or so, with our final court date on the 19th. This court will finalize the actual adoption, and in Latvia’s eyes, the girls will be ours! Only myself (Lydia) and N (our 14 year-old) will be going to this trip, while Chris and A stay home, and it’s only about 1 week long.

This trip is coming very quickly, but we do have some more expenses for this trip. We have not been able to do as much fundraising since the girls are home now. (Can you imagine? The last thing we want them to think is that they are a burden, or that they are for sale! What an awkward situation to be in!) That said, we still need about $5500-6000 for the next trip. This includes plane tickets for the 2 of us, housing and food, as well as the remainder of our fees for our lawyer and translation fees. You can donate through Payapl sending to lydiabischoff (at) gmail (dot) com, or if you need a tax-deduction, I can give you the information to send a check to our church.

Please pray with us about this, and if you can and feel God tugging on your heart to help us, we would really appreciate it! We know God would not bring us this far to leave us now.

Thank you for all of the help you have given us and the prayers you have lifted up! The lives of these two young girls have been changed forever… rescued, ransomed, redeemed… that, alone, is a miracle.


Home!

by Lydia

Wow, I just realized just how long it’s been since I bloggd! I’m so very sorry! Time in country totally got away from us as we bonded with the girls, and we ended up not having so much internet access.There’s no way I can recap everything that happened, but I’ll try to hit highlights.

image

Most of our days were filled with walks in the park, feeding the ducks, Uno & Monopoly games, blowing bubbles, and just getting to know each other. It’s a challenge to go from stranger to family in just 3 weeks.

Our last social worker visit went really well. Since N is over the age of 12, she was required to sign an official document saying she wanted to be adopted. A also had to verbally agree. The social worker said everything looked good and was happy to recommend that the girls be placed with us.

image

That weekend we took a road trip and went to Talsi, out west where we used to live. Our first day we did a ropes course which was a great bonding time, as it’s all about team work & trust. we also spent time with a lot of old friends and explored some of the other cities in the area. It was alot of fun showing the girls where we used to live and making that connection for them.

image

image

Before we knew it, it was time to head to court. we were a bit nervous, but everything went well and the court decided that that was, indeed, in the best interest of the girls to be adopted by us. JOY! EXCITEMENT! (And a little relief!)

The next few days were filled with visa interviews, last minute shopping, and finishing our countdown of days until we went home.

We decided to keep the girls up all night before the flight home, since we had to leave our apartment at 3am. It was a feat to accomplish. More Coke? Sure! Chocolate? Why not? Before we knew it, our taxi had arrived and we were on our way. The girls were troopers. A fell asleep on the way to the airport. Checking in went well, much my surprise. We’ve heard stories of ticket agents questioning the kids as to why they would leave, etc. Ours was smooth and fast, and they didn’t even ask for the papers they were supposed to ask for.

image

Riga to Frankfurt: 2 1/2 hours. We all slept some, but A was out before the plane took off.
2 hour layover. A slept on a bench & Chris had to carry her to our gate.
Frankfurt to Houston: 11 hours. N was awake the whole time. Crazy girl.
5 hour layover. Again, I was a bit nervous at immigration after stories I’ve heard. Once we finally got through the line, there were zero issues. Introduced the girls to Starbucks (nothing caffeinated for them!) N finally zonked out at our gate.
Houston to Tyler: 45 minutes. A stared out the window looking excitedly for the airport.
image

Friends! BaIoons! Hugs! Welcome home!

The girls loved exploring the house, seeing their rooms, looking at gifts left by our friends. They loved it all. (I loved checking out our bathroom that our friends finished while we were gone!) Our house was clean, our lawn mowed, notes of welcome spread around, and food in the fridge. We are blessed.

Sometimes jetlag works in your favor. Sunday morning we were up early enough to go to church. More hugs and welcomes.

Today Chris is off to work. A is awake but snuggled in my bed, and my teenager is sleeping, just as she should be. Normal family life.


Our First Week

by Lydia

Just one week ago we met these amazing girls. They were so shy and reserved. That first day we were out and about and A was too shy even to tell me she needed the restroom. Now, just a week later, they ask, even beg, for things (ok, more like intense requesting than begging… “Can we have popcorn, please, please, please?!”). A is quick to point out every ice cream truck in sight during our daily walks. N is also voicing her opinion, and both girls are opening up little by little.

We were all talking the other day about how we’ve only been together for one week. Even the girls were surprised by the short amount of time, declaring, “it feels like at least 3 weeks, or maybe a month!”

We go walking each day to get out of the apartment. Recently, we’ve started buying cheap bread and going to the park to feed the birds & ducks. We’ve done a bit of shopping, and also found a park with a swing set. A could swing for hours. This is a great find. “Finding Nemo” and speaking “whale” have become common occurrences in our home and through this we’ve found that the girls are hilarious! They make jokes in English and their English is growing each day. They even speak to each other in English. We all 4 are speaking both languages (sometimes in the same sentence) and I think that has helped a lot.

Skip Bo, Uno, Up Words, and Monopoly have all found their place in our living room. We have also finished a beautiful puzzle of Riga. (Ok, we all helped N do the puzzle. She’s so fast! All 1000 pieces were done in 4 days!)

Stories. Lots of stories. They’ve begun to open up and tell us more about their background and we have done the same. I’m so thankful they brought some photo albums with them. Their foster mom was great about taking pictures and keeping albums for each girl, so we get to see pictures of them when they were very little. Very rare thing in most cases.

Both girls have started to pray at meals and/or at bedtime. Hugs and whispers of “I love you” are plentiful. Last night A told us she will tell the court “yes”, that she wants to live with us in America. She said, “It’s time. It’s time for us to be a family.” Melt my heart. N said she still has time to think & decide, which is true, but her excitement over A’s declaration was a pretty good clue as to which way she’s leaning.

Two more weeks until court and 16 days til we get to start our trek home. We’ve started a countdown, and showed the girls their plane tickets. I think we’re all almost ready to come home and start our new life together.


A New Thing

by Lydia

There is no way to summarize this day. There is so much that I could say but a book would not cover this day.

The girls are here. In fact, they are sleeping in the next room. We met them barely 12 hours ago, life before them is like a foggy dream.

Some highlights:
*Meeting their foster family of 6 foster kids and 2 foster parents who love all of these children dearly.
*Foster Mom crying when we gave her a gift to thank her for raising the girls.
*Lunch at a restaurant and trying to discover what they like to eat.
*Court- I never imagined that I would cry telling the judge how badly I wanted the girls to stay with us
*Holding A’s hand walking through the streets of Riga.
*N speaks English very well, but A has been shy… but once they got going, there is no stopping them, in either language.
*Playing Latvian Monopoly together.
*Looking at pictures together while sharing the stories behind them.
*N telling us that her foster sister said that she and A were so lucky to have a Mom & Dad.
*Praying with the girls before bed and not only getting a hug from each of thern, but a kiss from A.
* A million looks and smiles that mean so much.

Our hearts our full and we are so blessed. Thank you for being part of this journey.


On the Verge of Something Great

by Lydia

Our time in Latvia has been wondedful so far. Honestly, at times it has been easy to forget why we are here. It’s just so normal for us to be in Latvia! We have had the privilege to see a number of our friends here, and do some touristy things, including eating some amazing food! But today was a good reminder as to why we are really here.

This morning we went to an interview with the girls’ social worker. We thought we were going to be interviewed but, in fact, they were expecting to answer our questions! So, we sat in a tiny office, with no windows, on an 85° day, and thought of everything we wanted to know about the girls that noone had told us yet. We learned so much today, the most exciting being that the girls know that we are coming and they have said that they are ready to be adopted!

This evening we also moved out of our friend’s house that we were staying in, and have moved to an apartment in Old Town Riga. We’re in a great location and are enjoying our time here already.

Tomorrow morning we will meet our lawyer and we will travel about 2 hours east to the girls’
foster home to meet them and then bring them back to Riga with us. We are so very excited, and nervous, but we can’t wait. We should be meeting them around 10:00am ( 2:00 am Texas time ).

Thank you to everyone for your prayers & support. We couldn’t do this without you.

Also, please understand that we will not be sharing details about the girls’ past in our blog. We want to honor them & protect their privacy.

( We’ll try to post more pictures tomorrow. :-)  )


Up, Up, and, Away!

by Lydia

What a whirlwind the last hours, days, have been. I believe today is Saturday. So, let’s backtrack. Chris worked on Wednesday while I worked more on preparing the house and getting us packed. A few quick visits with friends and last minute shopping and suddenly it was 4pm and Chris was on his way home. More last minute work, packing, and, oh, we should get some dinner! Anyway, 10pm rolled around and we called it quits and went to bed.

Bells, whistles, and guitars woke us at 3:00am. I couldn’t figure out who had let these people in my house, but a quick slap of the alarms and they went away. 45 minutes later a friend arrived to take us to the airport.

I am forever in love with the Tyler airport. This time it was actually cheaper to fly out of Tyler than Dallas, but even if it were more, the fact that it’s 20 minutes from our door to theirs, there are no lines and arriving an hour before your flight is more than enough time, AND no DFW traffic… worth every penny. Where else will the same lady check you in, tag your bags, be the gate attendant, and then guide the plane out with the big orange flashlights! :-)

I am proud to announce that our trip was, for the most part, uneventful. I do hate Frankfurt airport. I had quite the pat down, and the airport has a funky smell. It is old and yucky, though they are trying to remodel some of it. It was also the only flight that was late leaving. All other flights were on time, if not early. And the entertainment system on our overseas flight was awesome. (Paying a bit extra for an upgrade to Economy Plus was more than worth it as well.)

We met up with another family in Frankfurt who is also adopting from Latvia. We knew we would be on the same flight, but this was our first meeting in person. Later this afternoon I will go help them purchase some things they need.

We arrived in Riga with all of our luggage and a strange feeling… it all felt so normal. Seriously. We were amazed it felt so normal. Our friend Cheryl picked us up from the airport and we stopped to pick up some food things at a store we’d been to many times before. It was odd… I felt like it should have been more “mysterious”. But, it’s Latvia. Sure, things have changed, but it smells the same. It tastes the same. It feels the same. We’ve already seen some of our old friends who stopped by, and it was just so normal.

After a good 8 hours of sleep and a nice hot shower, I sit here in my friend’s sunroom watching her cats chase birds in the backyard while drinking strong black tea, and it almost feels like we never left.

Almost. I catch a glimpse of my phone that has the picture of 2 girls on it that I’ve never met but am hoping to make a part of our family. Then I remember all our friends who have helped us, and our church who have walked this journey with us, and all the work we’ve been doing for the past year to get to this place.

And then I realize the biggest difference in Latvia now, compared to 4 years ago… is me.


Overwhlemed and Thoroughly Blessed

by Chris

Custom made cake in the shape of Latvia with the colors of the Latvian flag… from someone we don’t even know!

This entire journey of adopting our children has been a step-by-step matter of faith. So many people say they would like to adopt but don’t have the money. Well, let me tell you, we don’t either. We are not those people who have $50,000 saved in the bank, or those that have big ticket “toys” that they can sell. No, we are the ones who lived paycheck to paycheck, counted our pennies and felt we were living well when we could go out to dinner. One year ago we were living on one paycheck… mine… that of a secretary in a school district that hadn’t given raises for a while. Our “good car” was a very loved 1997 Jeep that the paint was flaking off of. (The “other car,” well, we won’t talk about it except to say that no air conditioning is brutal in 100F summers in Texas… we know this from experience.) We were both still in school, and we were living in an apartment that we could only afford with the help of school loans, but anything cheaper we didn’t feel very safe in.

And then everything changed.

We tried to justify why we shouldn’t host 2 orphans for the summer. It made no sense, for all of the reasons above, and more. The more we fought it, the less successful we were. So, we gave in and said “yes.” We would bring a brother and sister from Latvia into our home for the summer. Our hope was that it would lead to adoption, but for now, it was just for 5 weeks.

In a matter of weeks, our lives were turned upside down. Before the kids even got here, Chris was offered a job, and he wasn’t even looking. And it was more than double what I made. I was suddenly able to stay home for the whole time the kids were here. And the $6000 that we needed to raise to host them… not a problem. It all came in, be it from our measly savings account, mega-garage sales, t-shirt sales, or generous friends.

But, a few weeks into our hosting experience we realized that this was not going well. We realized that these two children were just not the ones for our family. In the end, dear friends of ours stepped up and asked if they could adopt them. We were thrilled. Those 2 children are now home in the USA and starting to settle into their new lives.

So, we started over. And the Lord led us to a picture of two precious sisters. And everything we’ve done for the last 9 months has been to bring them home.

  • Thousands of dollars, reams of paper, and weeks of work spent on applications and our home-study.
  • Police clearances from 6 states and 1 foreign country
  • Physicals, tests, and numerous papers to be notarized by our doctor
  • Piles of paperwork sent to Austin to be apostilled (something like an international notary)
  • Fingerprinted 3 times (one of which was denied for Lydia and had to be redone… in Dallas, of course)
  • Countless FedEx envelopes crisscrossing the country
  • Fundraising forever! T-shirts, garage sales, “$2 for 2 girls on 2/22″, and donations from super generous friends and strangers!
  • (Did I mention we also bought our first house in the mean time??)

It has been quite a journey. In April we found out that the girls had agreed to meet us and we were indeed traveling to Latvia! Extreme excitement, extreme panic as we had so much money still to raise. (And a remodel project to finish… which is being discussed in my upstairs as I write.)

Chris and Ryan grilling up the rollers and sliders.

But today was another amazing fundraiser, another amazing outpouring of love from our church. With just 11 days to go before we get on a plane to meet our kids, our church hosted “The Bischoff Bake-off & BBQ”! Burgers and hot dogs on the grill, a ton of goodies for a bake sale. The shining moment was auctioning off some of the prime baked goods (including a cheesecake I made), as well as the Elders and Admin team for the church. I’m proud to announce that my cheesecake brought in the highest bid, going for $350!

Our church auction

Our church auction

Before the sale started we were about $3300 shy of what we needed for this trip. Our little church of maybe 80 on a Sunday morning poured out their love all over us and two girls they’ve never met. The final tally for the day was $4346.81! We are so blessed and overwhelmed with their love and generosity! God is so good!

As today closes, we are a mere 10 days away from getting on a plane to meet our girls, fully funded (for this stage), and abundantly loved. To everyone who has bought a cookie, made a $2 donation, donated or bought something at our garage sales, or wears a t-shirt exclaiming that “He sets the lonely into families”… Thank you.


We’re Going to Latvia!!!!

by Lydia

Wow, it’s been a busy week! Let’s see…

Thursday, April 18th, just a few hours before we were set to leave for the airport to greet our friends and their new Latvian kids, Chris and I checked our email… and to our great surprise, there was our referral! We had no idea it would come so quickly! In about a week’s time, the Ministry of Welfare approved us to adopt from their country, and they made it to the girls’ home to ask them if they would be willing to pursue adoption, AND THEY SAID YES!

The weekend through Monday was full of emails, documents and such. Then we began to (impatiently) wait for our travel dates. We were both constantly checking our email… waiting.

Last night we posted on our church Facebook page asking for prayer, that they would arrive today (Friday). Maybe that was a selfish prayer, but I wasn’t sure how I’d make it all weekend with this hanging over my head. Well… this morning, at 8:30am, I received an email and quickly called Chris at his work to tell him that…

WE HAVE OUR TRAVEL DATES!

The rest of my day was a blur of excitement, floating, and being really really freaked out!

We’re now in the process of getting some airline quotes and booking some places to stay in Latvia (a mix of apartment renting and staying with some friends…). As of right now, it’s looking like we’ll be flying out on May 31 and coming back on June 29! We are beyond excited and are suddenly in panic mode to get everything done in time, as that is a short 5 weeks away. (I feel like a new mom who suddenly found out she was pregnant, and is due in 5 weeks!)

Pray with us, will you? Pray that the girls’ hearts stay open to us. Pray that God would guide (and we would follow) in this new adventure as parents of teens/pre-teens! Pray for perfect timing and arrangements for our trip. And pray for our finances. (We’re currently at 43%, and need at least $7325 come in over the next 4-5 weeks.)

Thanks for standing with us and walking this road with us!!!

WE’RE GOING TO LATVIA TO MEET OUR DAUGHTERS! YAY!!!


Theme by Ali Han | Copyright 2016 New Horizons | Powered by WordPress