Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We're home and doing fine ....

Hola.  We're getting lots of calls and emails from everyone asking how the kids are doing.   Kids did great on both airplanes (we had a layover in Houston).  The entry into the US was a bit intimidating. No greeting, no smiles, no explanations.  We were told to stand aside and then were escorted to a room where they reviewed and processed the paperwork that the Embassy had given us.  Not exactly a welcoming experience but the Customs Official who finally told us what was going on was nice.   Once we were free to go, Scott and I reveled in the moment.  Of course, neither Evelin nor Jose could understand the significance  -- that they were now US citizens. 

Upon arrival to NYC, Tios Mitra y Chris surprised us at Baggage Claim with Bienvenidos (welcome) signs and gifties for the kiddies.  We had a great visit with them since we hit mucho, mucho traffico.  When we got home (after 10 pm), Grandma Leslie had welcome signs for them on the puertas and hanging from an arch in the apartment. 

It's been raining ever since, so we've only walked around the neighborhood a little bit.  And today, Jose has been un poco sick.  Low grade fever and another vomiting episode  -- first his orange juice across the breakfast table and then his oatmeal in the hallway on the way to the bathroom.  He's now in his PJs for the rest of the day. 

Evelin is coloring and has made paper collars for the dogs, paper jewelry for all of us and they both created paper plates that will be sent away to factory and made into their very own plastic plates ( a special gift from the Tios Mitra and Chris). 

We hope to get them settled in over the next few days while we figure out what they are actually going to do over the summer! 


A special gift ...

Evelin and I were searching the internet, looking for photos or videos of the hogar in San Ramon where she and Jose had lived for more than 2 years.  I couldn't believe it, but we came upon a video from 2011 that featured the children of the hogar. It was such a gift because by now I've heard so much about her life and friends there.  And by the way, most of the children in this video have been adopted. Check out Evelin at age 7 and Jose at 2.   

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our last day in Costa Rica ...

Our last breakfast at the piscina.  Our last goodbyes to all of the wonderful staff at the hotel who have supported us since our very first days.  And a lovely, lovely, lovely last day with Yolanda and her husband at their beautiful home, Tierra Fertil, right outside of Pacayas, Cartago.  It is high up in the mountains and situated between the volcanoes Irazu and Turrialba.  What a wonderful and relaxing day. Yolanda shared with Evelin something that she told us the very first time that we met with her more than a year ago.  She said, "Don't worry Scott and Stacey. Your children are out there and they are just waiting for you."  

Now, dear friends and family, we must finish packing. Thank you for following our blog during our stay in Costa Rica.  For those families who are adopting from Costa Rica, we want you to know that we are thinking about you and your children who are just waiting for you. If you have any questions at all, and we haven't corresponded yet, please feel free to contact me at samandsjg@yahoo.com

Friday, May 18, 2012

We're Coming Home ...

We got the children's passports this morning and our US Embassy was incredible. We have their visas.   Tomorrow, we are spending the day with Yolanda, our attorney, at her home in the country.  Then, on Sunday, we fly home.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout this journey.   

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We're about to turn the corner ...

Que lindo!
Playing and Posing

This morning, Scott took the children to the airport to watch the planes take off.  We told them yesterday that we might be flying home very, very soon. Jose did his little yippy hand flapping, clapping thing and Evelin, to our surprise, hasn't stopped chattering about it.  

We then spent the rest of the day hanging around la piscina because tomorrow is going to be a busy day.  We start out early at Migracion to pick up the children's passports.  Then it's off to the Embassy for our final meeting.  After, we take a quick trip to PANI to say adios to our favorite social worker, Ana Teresa.  Then hopefully it's back to the Embassy to pick up our visas.  We gave them almost everything that they needed in advance in the hopes that they can turn them around super, duper fast.  If they can't, then we'll have them early next week.  We really are about to go home soon ... 

Documents You'll Need for the US Visa

Here's what you'll need for your US visa applications for each child:

1. Costa Rican Passport
2. New Birth Certificate from the Civil Registry of Costa Rica
3. 3 photographs of each child
4. Original adoption decree or copy of adoption decree (with stamps on each page showing that they are copies of the original document)
5. A translated Article 23 letter (issued by PANI)
6. I-864W form for each child
7. Medical examination for each child
8. Immigration visa fee of $230 for each child

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Migracion, Picsina y Volcano Paos ...

You know your spanish is really bad when the nice policeman at Migracion has to physically walk you over to where you are supposed to be and not where you want to be -- back in the office of the woman who messed up our application in the first place.  It turns out that Evelyn's photo was not "confused"  at all.  Now remember, my spanish is very basic, but I think the woman explained to me that she typed the wrong number into the application (via the computer) and she couldn't correct it without doing the whole thing all over, including taking the photo.  So that took us nearly an hour and then it was back to the hotel to let Evelyn swim in la piscina before lunch. After lunch, we drove to Volcano Poas and made it there just before they closed the park.  So, we had it all to ourselves!  Very cloudy and rainy, but still impressive.  Kids are excited to go to other volcanoes with us. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our First Day Trip Outside of SJ ...

We made it past the pool and park today and explored the tropical La Paz Waterfall Gardens.  It's about an hour outside of San Jose, high up in the mountains where the rainforest is incredibly lush and beautiful.  It's one of Costa Rica's many national parques and it has amazing waterfalls, an animal refuge and more.  We spent a few hours there (in the rain) and had a really great time with the kids.  Jose is fascinated by cascadas (waterfalls), which is one of the reasons why we chose to go this park.  We got some great photos in the animal sactuary but, unfortunately, the waterfall photos didn't come out. (Scott blames the rain.  I blame Scott.)

On our drive back down the mountain, I checked my emails and found three messages from Yolanda, our attorney.  The first one said that we have our final US Embassy appointment this friday at 10:00 am.  The second one said that we should bring the children's photos over to them today or tomorrow so that they can get started on the visas before we get the kids' passports.  And the final email message said that we had to go back to the Oficina Migracion because Evelin's photo was "confused" and we needed to get another one taken.  She ended with a note of encouragement by telling us not to worry because this was Migracion's mistake and that we will still get their passports on Friday morning (at 8:00 am) before our Embassy appointment.  But, Pura Vida, this is Costa Rica.  

We got to the Embassy before it closed and we'll go to Oficina Migracion bright and early in the morning.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Children Have New Last Names ...

We've come so far.  Evelyn spent the first few weeks writing her first and last names in the most interesting places -- on the inside page of my Spanish-English Dictionary to the chalkboard outside of the judge's chambers on that difficult day in April.  Ah, but today, when our attorney showed her the new birth certificate with her new last names (she has mine and Scott's), she smiled broadly.  And here's something else --- on Evelyn's original birth certificate, her name is spelled Evelin.   We've asked that she keep that spelling. So there you have it.  Our Evelyn is Evelin.

With the new birth certificates in hand, we applied for their Costa Rican passports at the Oficina Migracion.  Of course, it took several hours and Jose did his very best to behave. He had little, itty, bitty, pouty tantrums, with the last one occurring just as we started our appointment.  As it turns out, those passport photos that we took last week are really for their US visas. So they had to have their photos taken again today for their Costa Rican passports. While we couldn't convince Jose to take off his raincoat, we were able to coax him to pull his hood off, which has a little shark's fin planted on top of it.  We pick up the passports on Friday morning and then it's off to the Embassy for our visas! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Farewell Nosara!

We left Nosara on a high note.   On Saturday, we went to the playa with the padrinos y primas and the kids had a blast. The beach was quickly followed by one last dinner at Evelyn's new favorite restaurant, Rancho Tico. And this time, the girls joined the crowd on the dance floor. 
We said our sweet farewells to everyone  late this morning, but not until after papa and Evelyn went horseback riding together. She came back positively glowing.  Now if only we could have closed our eyes and tapped our heels together three times and found ourselves back in San Jose.  Five hours of traffic and temper tantrums (and not just from the kids) took a bit of the wind out of our sails. We hope that all goes well tomorrow when we apply for the children's passports and then we plan to take them on a couple of spectacular day trips.

At the playa ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just Can't Wait to Get on the Road Again...

We're back in Nosara and we haven't told the kids yet that we have to drive 5 hours back to San Jose on Sunday. On our drive back, we received an email from our attorney saying that the children's new birth certificates were ready and that we have an appointment on Monday at Migracion. That's where we apply for the children's Costa Rican passports.

When I emailed Heidi to tell her that we were coming back just to pack up and go, her response was priceless (it was a great, spontaneous response, but I can't blog it ... so just use your imagination). Anyway, once we have their new passports, we can apply for their visas at the US Embassy -- and then it's back to San Jose we go!

While we are so happy that the adoption process is now moving along at a rapid clip, we will be sad to leave Nosara and say goodbye to the padrinos y primas. Tomorrow, we plan to spend the day and evening together. Papa and Evelyn may try and go horseback riding on Sunday morning or it may have to wait until our next trip to Nosara. Below are some photos at our favorite restaurant, Monteverde, midway between SJ and Nosara. Evelyn and Jose now recognize the place as soon as we approach it. It's a great "rest stop" with a playground and some dinosarios to boot.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just three shots needed ...

We waited an hour and a half before we got to see the nice doctor today.  Again, I forgot to bring snacks, books, toys, etc. Fortunately, Scott had his IPAD and kept Jose entertained for a bit, but poor Evelyn was a nervous wreck.  She repeatedly told us that she was just going to die of fright if she had to get an inyeccion (shot). The deep breathing exercises that we learned in yoga the other day lasted for about 5 minutes.  

By the time we made it into the doctor's office, Jose was fidgety and Evelyn had no finger nails left (she's a nail biter).  But the very nice doctor spent at least a half an hour with us chatting, asking questions, reviewing the medical records (rescued from the good sisters at the hogaricito) and then he conducted his exam.  By the time we got to inyeccion time, they were pretty relaxed.  Evelyn only needed one vaccine and they both needed a flu shot -- a new US requirement.  So, it wasn't bad at all.  Jose went first and he was very brave.  After that, it was a piece of cake for Evelyn (which is exactly what she was promised if she didn't die of fright). 

We headed back to the hotel and not to Nosara.   That we leave for tomorrow.  Photos tomorrow.  We promise.

Back in San Jose ...

We made it back to San Jose yesterday after five hours on the road, a visit to their hogaricito to pick up their medical records and a big meal along the way.  The kids were great, again.   Once here, we stopped at the US Embassy to get the required photos for their medical exams and passports.  We also learned that they will still need to get additional vaccinations that are required by the US.  We stayed the night at Apartotel Cristina and the kids were really excited to see the staff here.   Everyone here knows them and there were lots of holas, tickles and abrazos for Jose and Evelyn.   Hopefully we'll be able to wrap everything up today and get back to Nosara pronto.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On the road again ...

My kids are never going to forgive me when they see their passport photos.  We started out early this am, drove to Scott's favorite restaurant for brunch and ate a messy breakfast.  So, let's just say that perhaps some food or syrup found its way onto shirts, around the face, and maybe a little in the hair.  Then we stopped off at the hogaricito to pick up the kids' medical records where hair was joyfully tussled by the hermosas (nuns) and dirt may have lept up from the ground and landed on sweaty clothes (it's really hot in Guanacaste). Then we still had two more hours in the car.  By the time Scott pulled off of the exit in San Jose, one might say that the clothes were also a bit rumpled.  Scott took us straight to the US Embassy for the required 2x2 photos that we need for their medical exams tomorrow morning.  Of course, if we're going to get photos for the doc visit, it only made sense to have them print up enough for their passport photos too.  Need I say more?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Namaste ...

This morning, Evelyn and I enjoyed our first yoga class together at the Nosara Yoga Institute. Imagine, if you will, taking a class with your new daughter in the middle of the rainforest, listening to the sounds of the jungle. It was incredible.  She's actually quite good and I am really proud of  her. 

Later in the day, we learned that our "sentencia firme" was issued and our attorney sent a copy off to the Registrio Civil to get new birth certificates for Evelyn and Jose. And yes, we do need to go back to San Jose for their medical exams, but I'm not crying. While the kids are not happy about the 5 hour drive, it turns out that the medical records of their vaccination history is at the Hogaricito Cristiano. It's en route back to SJ. We want those vaccination records because 1) Jose and Evelyn would be very unhappy about having to get vaccinated again; and 2) it would cost another $400 per kid to get them done. So, note to adoptive families -- add asking for vaccination records to your own checklist of things that you need to complete during the adoption process in CR.

So, we drive to SJ tomorrow and see the doctor on Thursday morning. Then it's back to Nosara until the new birth certificates are issued. On a lovely and closing note, we stopped by the primas' casa this evening and here is a photo of the girls playing dress-up. Buenas noches!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 28 Together ...

Something has begun to shift.  A quick recap -- yesterday the padrinos had a small fiesta and the kids were great.  Jose, who is still fearful in new situations, places and with new people, did A-OK.  He figured out how to charm his way to a belly full of guacamole, chips, fruta, pollo y helado (ice-cream).  And Evelyn didn't hang back. She sought out her primas right away and was quite at ease throughout the party. But more than that, Evelyn has begun to open up and really let us in.  She wants to spend time with us and has asked to do things together as a family. So, tomorrow, she and I are taking a yoga class and on Wednesday, we're all going horseback riding! 

Still no word from the court on the "finalization" of the adoption (essentially making the adoption final through a "sentencia firme"), but we got instructions today on how to complete the visa process.  We must get medical exams of the children and if we have to go back to San Jose to do it, I'm going to cry. 

Jose, fearless en la piscina

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Actividades en Nosara

We've been packing in mucho action.  Yesterday, the primas came over again for an afternoon swim.  After they left, the skies opened up and we had a delicious downpour.  (Yes, it's rainy season in Nosara too.)  We were outside when it began and, on a whim, I ran into the house and grabbed some soap and shampoo and the three of us took a ducha (shower) in the rain.  The kids were totally delighted.  We met the padrinos y primas afterward at one of their favorite restaurants, Tico Ranchero.  We had a great time.  There was a place for the kids to play, an area where there was dancing and long wooden tables where we had massive amounts of food and drink.  Mucho divertido (much fun)! 

This morning, we picked up the primas and took them to a kids' yoga class. Check out these poses!



Downward dog


Umm -- Jose is un poco fearful...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jose becomes fearless...

Let me start by saying that Evelyn was shy when we took photos in the pool today and was not interested in being filmed or photographed.  With many days still ahead of us, we hope to have a blog dedicated to her accomplishments because she has come so far with her swimming. 

Jose has made tremendous progress.  On our first day together, he was terrified of the water and it took a few days to get him beyond toe dipping, the baby pool or running through sprinklers.  Then in San Jose, he spent days walking along a ledge in the pool and refused to take off his camisita (T-Shirt).  Right before we left San Jose, he was cautiously wading into the shallow area without the camisita.  Now, after just a few days in Nosara he's getting into his groove.  We have great videos that will not upload right now, but we hope to get them up soon!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Finally, we relaxed ....

Winding down with a pelicula en la noche
Yesterday finally felt like we were on our first family vacation!  Papa took the kids to the playa in the morning.  The primas, who had a half day at school, came over at lunchtime.  The kids then spent the entire afternoon in the pool and papa got a workout throwing them in and about.  Right before dinner, there was some tranquilo playtime downstairs.  Jose played with his cousin's legos, while the girls made cards for their respective padrinos.  Then dinner.  After dinner, the adults were presented with their cards and while the adults ate, the kids relaxed.  Francini and Jose watched Pinoccio and Evelyn and Celeste read some books together.   Today, we are hanging by ourselves but will have a fun-filled weekend with the primas again.  Here are two photos that we have from April 30 in between our last meeting with PANI and before court. 
Quick Swim to Burn Energy Before Court

Quick Lunch Before Court

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We're in Nosara!

Finally, we get to relax and vacation together as a family.  Yesterday, we drove for five hours to Nosara.  The kids were really great. When we arrived, we picked up the primas, Celeste and Francini, and took them over to the house that we are renting for a swim in the pool before dinner. (Yes, the house that we rented has a pool, overlooks the ocean and costs less than the hotel in San Jose!)   

We unpacked as much as we could, while keeping an eye on the kids, and then headed back over to la casa de padrinos for dinner.  Scott and I really needed to relax and unwind and we did just that.  Right now, Scott is with the kids at the beach while I catch up on life, so to speak.  We promise to unpack the camera soon and take photos, but right now -- we're just playing and breathing better.  We are going to resist going back to San Jose until we must...