Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First Five Days Home

We have made it through the first five days with Vic intact.

In fact, in keeping with our entire international adoption process defying most of our expectations, our initial adjustment as a family with Vic has been much easier than expected.

We've averaged one wake-up per night with Vic, but it hasn't been too painful. I change his diaper while Laura prepares a bottle, and he's asleep within five minutes or so. In short, he is sleeping very well. His appetite is also improving. He is just super-curious about everything, because his entire environment is very new to him. We are experienced believers in the Babywise method, so we are trying to establish a rigid schedule of two naps and an early bedtime every day.

I'm quickly learning that the homecoming did not mean an end to the arbitrary documentation process. It's acute for us because of our overseas military status. Here are some of the tasks we have been working towards:
  • Command sponsorship - began application on day of arrival, discovered we need to get EFMP screening. Travel over to clinic to discover EFMP requires and appointment with the doctor, and that requires DEERS enrollment. Check.
  • DEERS enrollment - completed Tuesday morning.
  • TRICARE (military health insurance) enrollment - completed Tuesday afternoon.
  • EFMP screening appointment - completed Tuesday morning (after DEERS enrollment).
  • SOFA certificate application - the SOFA certificate is essentially an unrestricted visa issued by the US military authorities here. Laura applied for it this morning at our local passport service. It's a bit unnerving, as they must send Vic's Kaz passport to Heidelberg. However, the SOFA certificate is what will supersede the 90-day visitor's Schengen visa that currently allows Vic into Germany.
Once his passport returns with the SOFA certificate, another potential headache looms. Vic's IR-3 visa, issued in Almaty by the US Embassy, is only good for six months. However, an IR-3 visa issued to adoptive parents employed overseas should be valid for the duration of the employment (source, PDF). The embassy knew this, but declared they could not print the correct, extended expiration date due to a "technical glitch". No, I'm not kidding, I couldn't make this up. So, it remains to be seen whether we'll have any success petitioning the Frankfurt Consulate for an extension.

If we are not successful, this means we have to get Vic back to the US before mid-December, when his current IR-3 visa expires, in order for him to get automatic US citizenship.

In other news, check out our first family picture below, taken just after our first Mass together this last Sunday.

Here's a quiz for our non-local readers to answer in this posting's comments: notice anything different about Laura in this photo, or earlier ones? Go ahead, guess away, and guess bold.

For our local friends: no spoilers!


Jennifer said...

Not going to guess. :-) But I can't wait to hear!

I love Babywise! Totally saved me as a first time mom who had not a clue as to what to really do with a 7 month old other than lots of love and kisses.

Glad things are going so well!

Sandi said...

I have an idea, but I don't want to leave it as a comment, just in case :-) Looking forward to you unveiling the secret.

I am so happy you guys are all home together. I hope that you can get Vic's visa squared away, why is it that nothing can be easy?


Bob Sims said...

@jennifer m and @sandi: ah, c'mon... you gals are such chickens! :-)

Thanks very much for the continued encouragement. I'm just happy to know someone is still showing an interest in my musings.


Mark and Melanie said...

well, I've never really spoken with Laura so I guess it won't matter if I'm wrong and she doesn't speak to me going forward...but my guess is either the local Karaganda cuisine is/was better than expected or you are growing a third?

Oh and congrats on bringing home your second!


Bob Sims said...

@mark, you got it! After five years of us trying, Laura's pregnant again.

I knew I'd have to wait for a guy to make a solid guess. And don't worry, I wouldn't have set you up like that.

Yes, three kids are exactly what we wanted -- but, we just didn't expect to have the last two so fast.

We chose not to share the news earlier because the in-country staff was really, really concerned about the impact it might have on the proceedings. In hindsight, I think the angst was unnecessary, but it's water under the bridge now.

Thanks for playing.


Tracy said...

Congrats on number two and number 3!!! 3 kids are thrilling... but 4 are fun!!! (at least I hope!) I will let you know once we go get our litle guy.

Sandi said...

OK so it what I thought, but you never want to call a woman pregnant if you are not for sure.

This is wonderful news, congratulations. You are going to have one very busy household.

I can't wait to follow along on the next part of this journey.


Mark and Melanie said...

I was curious about the other photos, especially the airport shot and the curious placement of the bouquet of flowers, but nothing really jumped out...until you all posed facing the breeze.

Awesome news all the way around!

dnd82001 said...

I want to say I was trying to come up with a creative reply that would say I thought you were expecting but like Sandi that really is a no-no in the world of infertility and adoption so CONGRATULATIONS - what wonderful news!!!

Continued blessings!!


CarrieMomma5 said...

bob and laura-
it's carrie and chris here in clarksville. i hope our paths cross one day. we had one bio daughter, adopted one kaz daughter, and found out i was expecting a third while we were in country! three is a wonderful blessing and we're so happy for you all! God is so good! our stories sound more and more alike each time i read your blog! love it! :)
take care,

Jennifer said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! That is so wonderful! And yes- I was a total chicken. :-)

Easy guess, but NO WAY! I'd be afraid that on the remote chance I was wrong, Laura might come hunt me down. :-)

This is great news you guys. I'm very happy for you.