Saturday, January 21, 2012

She's Ours, All Ours

Beautiful Lucia became a part of our family—legally and forever—at our finalization hearing on January 4th, 2012. The finalization removed Lucia's birth surname and replaced it with Leone. What an important and happy day in our family! We love you, Lucia, and we are so glad you are officially ours now.

Sadly, we managed to forget the camera in the car and did not have time to head back down to retrieve it. Aaagh! Our finalization photos are, therefore, less-than-ideal phone photos, snapped by the bailiff. Nevertheless, they capture the moment, and they include our good judge. Too bad Lucia did not want to lift her head for the photos!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Finalization Day Approaches

If all goes as planned, sweet Lucia Rose will become a Leone officially on January 4th. We are counting down the days with great excitement as it all comes together. Lucia is such a gift to all of us. We cannot wait until everything is official.

We love you, Lucia!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Paternal Rights Terminated

We are one step closer to Lucia's adoption finalization. On Thursday morning, September 22nd, the rights of Lucia's birthfather were terminated.

The only thing standing between us now and finalization of Lucia's adoption is one post-placement visit. That will likely be scheduled for late October.

It won't be long before Lucia shares our last name legally and finds herself a part of our family not only by love, but by law as well.

Beautiful Lucia

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Post-Placement Visit #1 is Behind Us

Our social worker must make two post-placement visits to our home before Lucia's finalization in November or December. One of the visits is now history.

Miss Lucia was in good spirits and entertained our kind social worker, Lynn. Her older siblings kept the noise level high and the parental stress level up. However, Lucia gets a thumbs-up in her new surroundings from Lynn, and that gets three cheers from all of us.

Lucia, formerly Miss Skinny, has now plumped up nicely. She is loooooooong. She will be one tall girl one day. She is already one tall three-month old.

We can't imagine life without Lucia. She's such an amazing and perfect addition to our family. We are all counting down the months to finalization.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweet Words

While we were in Georgia, one of Joe's clients sent him a copy of an amazing email. It was an email that the client had sent to his own business partners.

I have pasted below the content of the client's email to Joe, followed by the client's email to his own business partners. I have removed all identifying information.

These emails brought to tears to both Joe's and my eyes. I have never met this client with the big and thoughtful heart, but I hope I am blessed with the opportunity one day.


I believe in the providence of God – that he is the author of my life.

So I have faith that meeting you was part of this plan, and trust that what is happening right now is part of his bigger plan which is ultimately for my good.

As I was thinking about it this morning I had another thought which I shared with [my partners] - I also wanted to share it with you…

[Joe's Client] 

Dear [Partners],

We like to joke that we pay for lawyers' boats and luxury cars with the legal fees we pay – you’ve personally paid a large sum to [Joe's firm] to defend [your] right to benefit justly from [your] life’s labor.

However, your lawyer Joe does not buy boats and Ferraris with his income – he drives to Georgia to pick up a newborn baby that would have a horrible life but now will grow up in a loving family and have a bright future with the opportunity to reach her full potential.

So I would like to think that you’ve only spent $___ in defending yourself and have spent $___ to ensure a new life for a little girl that you’ve never met and probably never will.

[Joe's Client]

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lucia is Baptized!

Just nine days after we arrived home with Lucia, she was baptized.

Our pastor, Monsignor Kevin Holmes, performed the baptism at St. Patrick Catholic Church (part of the same parish of our church, Holy Redeemer).

We were honored when our friends, Jill and Dave, accepted our invitation to be Lucia's Godparents. Jill and Dave also have a large family (eight children) and are adoptive parents themselves. Not only will they make excellent Godparents for Lucia, but they are good and kind to us—inviting our tired family over for a cozy get-together at their home after the Baptism.

One more milestone for little Lucia, now baptized into the Catholic Church. God bless Lucia Rose!

William gets ready to serve Mass and the Baptism.
I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit...
Lucia and her proud mama.
Joe & Elizabeth with newly-baptized Lucia.
Lucia is wearing Papa Del's (grandfather's) baptismal gown, worn also by all her siblings.
Posing with Monsignor Holmes and Lucia's Godparents and their children.
Our friend Angela (Godmother of Marguerite) snuggles with Lucia.

Dairy Cows and Wedding Bells

Less than twenty-four hours after introducing Lucia to the land of cows and cheese, we attended a friend's wedding reception. Little Lucia rolled with it all and pretty much snoozed the night away. As for the rest of us, we stumbled around like sleep-deprived zombies, but we wouldn't have missed Jen's wedding reception for anything.

The beautiful mother of the bride gets to know Lucia.
The parents of seven catch a dance while babies are held by reception-goers.
Claudia, mother of the bride, cuts the rug with Therese.
John, father of the bride, dances with Miss Marguerite. 
Elizabeth with the beautiful baby girls.
John, father of the bride, takes Kathleen—sporting a balloon hat—for a spin on the dance floor.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Apparently, I have a whole lot more time to blog on the road than I do at home. We've been home four whole days, and it's been nothing but a whirlwind of activity, getting back into the normal rhythm of life. And that normal is the new-and-improved normal, as our lives are altered forever by the addition of our beautiful Lucia. Just eleven days old today, it's hard to know what we did without her.

Lucia is settling in well, and so are we. Miss Marguerite is full of tremendous love and affection. We have to diligently guard against her smothering Lucia as she envelopes her in enthusiastic hugs and kisses.

Tonight, around 10:00 pm, ten days will have passed since T signed the papers surrendering her rights to parent Lucia. At that point, T will no longer be able to change her mind, and we will rest in the knowledge that Little Lucia will be with us forever. Bliss. Meanwhile, we remember T in our prayers every night. She gave us two of the greatest gifts we'll ever receive. And she gave two lucky little girls the great gift of life.

Sweet Wisconsin slumber for our newest cheesehead.
Looking a little like Marguerite here?  
Lucia and Marguerite in their dueling high chairs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday on the River along the Tennessee Border

We spent Thursday fighting the extreme heat by seeking out the recommended local swimming hole on the Ocohee River. Joe and I took turns on the river bank with our little Peanut Lucia while we alternated with helping the other kids in the water. The water was shallow and virtually still, but the rocks were slippery underfoot, so Marguerite and Therese required some careful attention. Most of the time, I stayed out of the water, shading and fanning Lucia—and sprinkling bottled water on her. It was one seriously hot day. Eventually, I made my way down to the water while Joe held Lucia. It was good just to get wet.

Anna Marie in the north Georgia mountains.
Cooling ourselves in the river.
Okay, I would normally never post a photo of myself in a swimming suit—blech!
But look at our peanut Lucia! I thought this was such a great photo of her, I couldn't resist including it.
(Marguerite simply would not look at the camera. She was having far too much fun taking over Lucia's stroller.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday in a Log House Near Blue Ridge, Georgia

 After leaving Macon and Atlanta, we headed north on Tuesday night toward the northern border of Georgia. Since we are eager to go home, but can't leave Georgia until our Interstate Compact paperwork clears Georgia and Wisconsin, we decided to get just as close to the border as possible, in order to ultimately shorten our trip home. (Besides, it's HOT in Georgia, and heading south to vacation where it's even hotter was not sounding appealing to these Wisconsinites.)

We found a magnificent log home available for rent, in the mountains just outside Blue Ridge, Georgia. I sent out many emails in search of a rental home, inquiring what kind of rate they'd be willing to give a traveling family of nine who needs to stay in Georgia until adoption paperwork clears. The woman who owns this home answered promptly and proposed a rock-bottom rate (much, much lower than what was advertised on her site), because we are an adoptive family. She said her sister has adopted trans-racially, and she was intrigued by our story and wanted to help us out. So, we've spent the last two days enjoying the beautiful north Georgia mountains from the comfort of a log home that sleeps all of us very easily—no sleeping bags required. We'll stay here until we receive the clearance to leave Georgia. From here, we'll make the fourteen-hour trip home. Hey, that's just a hop-skip-and-a-jump, compared to the seventeen-hour marathon trip we did on the way down here...  :)

Kathleen and Marguerite get some snuggle time with Lucia.
Beautiful log home! Such a great place for us to spend a few days with our clan.
Andrew and Therese wait for Dad to put the ping pong table top on the pool table in the loft.
Kathleen and Lucia from above.
A table big enough to seat all of us!
The kids love holding Lucia. Sometimes they have to wait in line.
Therese remembers that she was too young to feed Marguerite and is enjoying helping out with her newest baby sister.
Look at our pretty girl!
Miss Lucia Rose—all cozy on the bed where Mom and Dad have been sleeping.
The little foldable "Snuggle Nest" in which she is lying has been a great portable bed for Lucia. It's the same one we used when we were on the road with newborn Marguerite.
Andrew gets some quality time with Lucia in the morning.

Dinner at Mary Mac's in Atlanta

After a very full day at the Atlanta Aquarium, we enjoyed dinner at Mary Mac's Tea Room on Tuesday night with our Atlanta friends, the Lotts. After getting to know them well by phone and email through the adoption process, it seemed so natural meeting them in person—as if we'd known them forever. It was a wonderful evening of traditional southern cooking and excellent friendship. The good people at Mary Mac's gave us our own private room which was a great move on their part, all things considered.

Check it out... The Lotts and Leones have some similar-looking families... Needless to say, it was an energetic evening with thirteen kids! We received a bundle of questions from the proprietors of the restaurant.

If you're considering a minority adoption, I highly recommend Courtney and Emory Lott and their Faithful Adoption Consultants agency. 

Marguerite and Emmy play at dinner.
Kathleen makes friends with Emmy.
Andrew, William, Aidan, and Michael become fast pals over dinner. 
Mina and Kathleen are buddies.
The Lott and Leone families. All seventeen of us!

Tuesday at the Atlanta Aquarium

Lucia & Kathleen
Elizabeth & Marguerite check out the fish overhead.
Andrew & the jellyfish.
Lucia & Marguerite with Mom.
Lucia gets to peek through a porthole at the fish.
Caricatures of Andrew & William.
Caricatures of Therese & Kathleen.
Caricature of Anna Marie.