Here is a much owed update. This, of course, before I transition the blog into RAISING PERU KIDS. I will keep Adopt Peru for the purpose of information and timeline regarding Peru adoptions but I think we are going to learn and grow from here on as we navigate the challenges of raising 3 Peru adoptees ages 9, 8 and 6.
We have been home for 2 months now and we are slowly but surely getting our bearings. At first, we were just excited to be home after a lengthier than anticipated stay in Peru, then came the crazy realization that this was our life now. 4 kids 2 adults one dog; let the inevitable chaos begin. The beginning was hard, I’m not gonna lie. We had to start enforcing the same discipline we had in Peru in a new environment. We were met with a lot of resistance. Just like that, the honeymoon period was over. don’t get me wrong not all was adopted kid issues, a lot of it was plain old generic asshole kid issues. Yup, I just called kids assholes. Listen I love my kids to death but sometimes (including my adult one) they are just that, little terrorist assholes who suck the life out of you but asleep they look like heaven. It’s complicated! We needed to learn which was which so as to discipline/talk/love through it differently. My Ela for example, shuts down when called out on bad behavior. We cannot get her to talk to us or even look at us when this happens. We are also finding out that english is a bit more of a frustration for her and reverted to showing her middle finger in school to kids whom she thought had wronged her. We nipped that in the butt real quick but I am sure the kids have not forgotten. FYI, she didn’t learn that from me since she has not been in the car with me that much when I drive in Jersey. If you are from Jersey, you know! She is becoming more open and we are starting to see happiness show a little more as she feels more secure and loved. My Jhoan is a different story. He has outbursts of anger when disciplined, tv is turned off, or transitioning into other activities he may not like. At first they were severe, hitting doors and walls and at one point, Dad. This lasted for about a month. This is the part that had me anxiety ridden and suffering from a bit of insomnia. Of course, this was aggravated by the fact that I had returned from Peru with yet another little souvenir, a bacteria called H. Pylori that had created and ulcer in my stomach and made me lose 16lbs. in one month. I was a mess and I felt a mess. 3 antibiotics, pain meds and ulcer meds later I am much more myself. Jhoan’s behavior was also a cause for stress between Chris and I, as it normally happens in couples with different parenting styles. Mine of course being the best one, just kidding, ughh why am I like this! The more we became consistent and got on the same page, the better things got. We are working on it everyday. I am happy to say that the tantrums and anger that he was showing at the beginning is getting so much better were he knows to control it a lot better and understands that going crazy on the furniture and house gets him ignored and nowhere. Things get better everyday with him. Now, my Leo is a bit of a hot mess. She seems to have less adopted kid issues and just plain old kid nonsense. She understands cause and effect better now and things with her seem to run somewhat smooth.
Life is different for us now, for all of us. It’s hard, it’s chaotic, it’s complicated, it’s beautiful, it’s fulfilling and most of all, it’s busier than a 5 dollar hooker. Here are some pictures of our first 2 months.
This past Wednesday we were up at 5am because the US Embassy was about an hour from our apartment and we would be going around peak rush hour so we needed to be early. This was one appointment I was NOT missing. Getting into the Embassy was interesting. I had to leave my purse and cell phone in a locker outside the building. That made me nervous but since I was allowed to bring my wallet in, I felt better. The interview was all of 5 minutes and 1 hour and 975$ later we were ready to wait and see if the visas are granted that afternoon. I had to go back to the apartment and pack all our stuff and move us to the hotel. By 4:30 we had moved to the Hilton and received the call that our visas were granted but since it was a bit late we could pick up our packets and their passports tomorrow morning. That night, as I waited for Chris to come in I slept like a baby. The following morning we secured the visas and bought plane tickets fro Chris and the kids. We would leave that night! I have never felt so relieved! Only a 20 minute scare as we tried to pass customs when they, again, asked me about my maiden name used on the resolution. Once that was fixed, we were on our way. We arrived at Newark airport on Friday, March 28th at 11:40am. I felt like the pope and wanted to kiss the floor but then I remembered……well..its Newark! We were home!! And just like that, this part of the journey is over. Next up, raising these beautiful kiddos! Thank you everyone for following along and for all your thoughts and prayers! As we arrived at home we also realized we have a great community and if its true that it takes a village to raise a child, then they will be just fine, because I definitely live in a great one! Here is a little video that captures our journey in Peru. I hope you enjoy it!
We went from no movement and stress over nothing being done to a crazy run to the finish line. This week was unbelievably stressful. Over the past weekend I was concerned that the last DNI had not come back. I was starting to worry that there was something wrong with the documents we submitted and we would have to do it all over again, this of course meant more waiting. By Monday morning I had had very little sleep and my appetite was zero. I must have called and check the app every 10 minutes and when 4:30 came I knew things weren’t going to happen that day. I had decisions to make about my flight scheduled for Wednesday, about the apartment we were renting and the appointments we needed to make at the embassy. Of course, no sleep that night either. Tuesday morning the app read 85%, it had moved from 75%. It was comical, looking back now, how happy 10% movement made me. Honestly, at this point, very little shocked me about my emotions. I was still sweating bullets though because it was only 85%. As I was ready to call them one more time the app moved to 100% READY FOR PICK UP. I don’t think I have ever jumped out of a chair and gotten ready as quickly as I did that day. Seriously, I was ready in 3 minutes. Even when I tell Chris I’ll be ready in 5, I don’t even believe it myself. This time I called my lawyer and in 10 minutes we headed to the RENIEC (Registro Nacional de Identificación y Estado Civil) office to get the DNI. It was already 10:30am and if we wanted to secure passports and maybe a visa interview appointment we needed to move fast. On the way to our next appointment, one of the kids got car sick and threw up in our lawyer’s car. Of all the days to get sick!!!! By 12 we were downtown getting their peruvian passports which took all of and hour and also a new pair of pants and shirt for the poor kid. By 3 we needed to head to the DGA’s office for me to sign the amendment to the resolution which has my correct passport number. Yes that was wrong too. By 4:30 we headed to the Embassy doctor to pick up their check-ups signed and sealed for the visas. Sitting at the doctor’s office I realized we hadn’t eaten since 8am and all I had in my purse was vanilla wafers and skittles, guess what they had as a snack? Mother of the year, I tell you. By 6 we had all we needed and my lawyer got us an appointment at the embassy for the following morning at 8am. We were way on our way to going home. Chris bought his ticket for Wednesday and I changed mine from Wednesday to the following Thursday crossing my fingers and everything else I could, in hopes that visas come in either Wednesday afternoon of Thursday morning. All I could do is hope that for once, things go as planned!
Yes we are still in Lima! Two weeks ago the kids became officially our children and a week and a half ago the silent period was over and we began doing the paperwork needed to change their personal info and start visas. We requested DNIs last Monday and that was a whole day event since apparently it isn’t everyday that they work with someone (as the mom) using her maiden name yet has no official document that identifies her as such and I left the country before they issued DNIs to children so I am not found in any registry except by birth certificate. Yes, that was fun! Its always a joy when you have two different Peru government employees fighting about how I’m “technically an American” and the other saying “No, she was born here so she has to be this person”……uhm I’m here and yes I am, in fact, “this Person” simply trying to get DNIs for the kids I adopted from my country of BIRTH. Three hours later, we had finished the process that should have taken 1 and as usual (for us), though the DNIs come out in 2-3 days (we filed in a special circumstance office), ours are taking longer than a week already. Of course not all, just one of the kids, you know, just enough to tease us and make us think that things will run smooth. So here we are sitting on pins and needles at the mercy of an app, which I check every 10 minutes that has been sitting on 70% completed since last Wednesday. Yes that documents has been 70% done with step 6 out of 6 done and still no document. Another monkey wrench thrown in there the same day adding insult to injury is that hours from Chris leaving to return to the states, leaving me to complete the process and travel with the kids, we learned that we cannot do a power of attorney for me to travel with them unless we have a specific flight and date, which we did not. He will have to return to Peru to pick us up when the process is complete. I think I must have lost it that day. After a grueling morning to hear you have to spend another thousand dollars to buy an extra plane ticket was more than I could handle. But Chris was leaving and I had 4 kids (my big boy Charlie was with me visiting) that needed me put together. I’m really surprised at the many times I give myself pep talks through all this. I have even resorted to heckling. Me: Omg Jessica don’t be such a baby, you can do this. Holy cow you are weak” Also Me: ok I can do this, I can do this, can I do this?? Cause I’m really not that great! Also me: Shut up! This is how my mornings start, oh and they start at 4:45-5am why you ask? Because apparently my body doesn’t sleep in Peru. Oh wait I sneezed yesterday and my eyes closed for a few seconds sooo that was cool. Anyway, today is the day I don’t take NO for an answer. I will get that document and we will go home this week. I may or may not start a GoFund me for bail money! Just kidding Chris always has bail money for me!
But let me introduce you to the newest members of the Oxendine Clan!!
We are still in Peru finishing up paperwork with a few delays for unforeseen circumstances …. who am I kidding, it’s us… it was always foreseen(is that even a word?). Well here we are still. We are in the silent period portion of the process. This is when a resolution has been given and signed by all stating the kids will be ours if no one says otherwise. Their birthplace was notified and we wait 5 days for them to..well… for lack of better words ‘speak now or forever hold their peace’. It use to be 2 days but right before we got here it was increased to 5. After the time has passed we can begin the process of formally changing their entire personal documents to reflect their new last name and parents. Eeeek sounds so weird but so perfect at the same time. Once they have Peruvian DNI (equivalent to U.S. SS#), passports and new birth certificates, we can begin to acquire visas, US passports and (my favorite part) tickets home. Soooo we are looking at 2 more weeks maybe.
How are we doing with the kids? This is the question everyone asks. Well we are doing well, they are still kids so we have established a routine for them, very similar to the one we will have back in the U.S. (eating, sleeping, etc) and also establishing a consistent form of discipline which they have, so far, recognize, hate, but understand and learn. They are very loving kids so they respond to our unbearable hugging, tickling and kisses and when we are disappointed in something they have done they still seek to please us. I’m also happy to report that, although rusty, my motherly look of death is still very much effective. Also I can go from a raspy quite and scary “if you don’t stop what you are doing right now” to an angelic and soothing “hello how are you” phone conversation like I have multiple personalities. Basically I’m momming hard you guys! By the way the silent period expires Thursday, so stay tuned for formal introductions of these beautiful kids of ours.
I do have to say, I’m missing home something fierce. I miss my tribe back home and my bed and although I generally refer to a bath as people soup, I have been craving a bathtub with scented candles and a glass of wine. I love city living except between the hours of midnight and 5am which seems to be when every Limeño feels the need to check their car horn for functionality. I also have to say that if I wasn’t from here and I didn’t have the best family in the world who has really supported us and distracted us and held us super close, I’m not sure I could survive the loneliness and uncertainty. I love Lima! It’s beautiful! The people, my people are awesome. The food is beyond compare and the weather is fantastic. I find myself missing it often when I’m back in the U.S. but NY is now home and I can’t wait to get back.
So we are still here. We are making some strides but I feel like at this point I should report exactly the good, the bad, the ugly and the ridiculous. That’s right, I said it, some things are Ri-donculous here in Peru. I can say that because I was bred and half way raised in the ridonculous, but holy mother of god Peru is killing me. So let’s begin.
The good. In all honesty our lawyer/representative here in Peru has been doing a lot of the leg work and from the start she has really made sure we are on track to leave as early as we are allowed. Just so you know however, all that specific and detailed attention comes at a cost. Every taxi she takes, every copy she makes, every picture she prints, (I’ll be watching you ♫) jk, I meant we’ll be paying for. The first thing that happens when we land in Lima is we see the DGA (director of general adoptions) she clears us to travel to the place where our children are, in our case Trujillo, Peru. We book flights for us and our lawyer and while we are there her stay, her meals and her transportation is courtesy of us. That, of course, is how it works but know that this doesn’t happen in one lump sum, so be prepared to withdraw a little money everyday for those payments since ATMs limit your withdrawals in either soles or dollars. She is also traveling by herself back to the kids birthplace to get some more needed documents (its far) so she is worth her weight in gold.We did ask her to give us receipts for a lot of things and she was ok with that. Make sure you keep all of them for tax purposes so travel with one of those coupon carriers for ease of safekeeping, we didn’t, cause we are dumb, just kidding, we are just learning as we go. You are welcome! Another good thing is that there is a timeline of how things are going to run, so you can plan your trip around that (tentatively) because before you even travel you should be able to get a calendar of all the steps in the process and how long they might take. Of course, nothing has gone according to plan with us so we just prepared for this to follow suit. Other ‘goods’ are the food, the warmth of the people, and the weather! Oh and the fact that I am enjoying my family in an extended Peru visit this time.
The bad Well I have to say the bad was really not being prepared for what happens when you take your kids with you from the orphanage. I’m not sure if this is particular with their orphanage but I was told a lot of them work this way. We brought clothes for them of course, but were surprised that they are asked to leave all their clothes, shoes, and undergarments to be recycled for the other children. We were not aware of this little information and since they had been slow to give us sizes while in the states we were not as prepared as we could have been. My advice is NAG people to get sizes and plan to travel with a month and a half worth of clothing, shoes, etc. Another bad, is that we found out late (almost 2 days before travel) about another custom that’s done in the orphanage. As our kids say their goodbyes we have to plan and throw a goodbye party. I would have like to have known more about this and been given a little more time since we had to purchase gifts for ALL the children left there and ALL the staff, yikes! Your agency should get all this information to you well before you travel. So knowing what I know now, I’ll say this, buy everything in the states and bring it with you. The dollar store is wonderful for party things and even for little gifts for the staff. We got some lotions and scarves and fancy pens. Plates and napkins and decorations too. Buy gifts that are light and won’t increase your luggage weight. You are also going to be buying the food and cake for this party so be prepared to find a grocery store nearby, oh and know that you will be shopping with your kiddos, your lawyer, some of the staff members and a psychologist/social worker who will be watching and evaluating you as you go, what could go wrong, right?. Fun times, fun times! I will also add that if you happen to have extra children clothes or toys that you can bring and donate to their orphanage, it would certainly be used.
The ugly I only have one thing to say about the ugly and its that as much as we have learned about orphanages and children needing forever families here in Peru, the system that is currently in place is so drawn out and bureaucratic, that children can wait years before they are deemed/categorized orphans to be place on the lists for adoption and apparently the system is could get lengthier. The staff at each orphanage, lawyers and psychologists in all the different locations are working hard to make the system abide by the Hague Convention while being efficient but one central entity is the one that can only certify anything and they are not working as fast unfortunately.
Now the Ridonculous Oh this one is a doozy! So apparently when adopting in Peru, your kids will get a birth certificate that contains their name, your husband’s last name and your maiden name. Oh yeah! But you may not have any legal documents with your maiden name anymore because you took your husband’s last name at marriage, you say? Well Peru doesn’t give a crap. You might have to file paperwork in the states to change their last names and finally get them enrolled in schools and actually have legal rights to your children as their mother? uhmmm yeah Peru doesn’t give a crap. Hence the reason my husband can’t travel back home before the process is complete and, oh I don’t know, work to pay for this adoption. I mean it is what it is and we will jump through any hoop but I am just upset that, even when the adoption is complete, I have no legal documents that matches their names so hubby still needs to sign everything and I won’t have legal ties to them until we go back home. WONDERFUL! gahhhhhh Peru, I love you but you are killing me!
Ok there it is! What we have learned so far. Hope its helpful to someone. On another note, the kids and us are adjusting nicely and starting to get a routine going. The social worker visits should end this week so we can get back to bonding, learning from each other and adjusting to being a family. Basically we’ll be moving this shit show from Peru to America soon, woot woot!! Can’t wait to get them home!! I also can’t wait to show you some awesome pictures of these kiddos! Soon!!
A week, that is all it has been! One WEEK! A full one at that. We landed in Lima last Sunday at 1am. I am always amazed at how much I feel a sense of belonging while I’m in the air, either going to the States or coming to Peru. I read a book about exile and expats once that explained something similar and this time around I truly felt it. I’m not so much from here because I have been gone for so long and things have changed so much, and I’m not so much from the U.S. because there is so many things that differentiate myself from, at least those in my close circle. I’m not saying its bad but sometimes it can get lonely. Why was I thinking about all this you ask? Well I just want to make sure I understand that feeling as much as I can so I can identify it in them, maybe.
Anyway, moving on to telling you all how this week went, what we learned, what we miss, what and what we want. We flew to Trujillo, which is where our kids are from, on Monday after our first session with the Director of General Adoptions here in Lima. That meeting was a bit disheartening since we learned that the timeline we had was pretty set in stone and there was no way of doing this quicker than 5 weeks. We were in Trujillo that night, the flight was 45 minutes, but a bus ride or car ride would have been 6 hours because well….Peru. I have only been there once as a child for a swim meet and I shared that with Chris, but somehow he heard “I have lived there, using public transport and knowing streets”
Chris (the whole week): “where is that?”, What is that building?” What road is that on?”
Me: “You are killing me smalls”, “Dude I said I was 8 when I stayed here for 4 days, what do you want from me.”
Tuesday morning we first had to go to a government building to sign the start of our long end of the process. We were then free to finally travel to the orphanage and meet our kids. It took 25 minutes to get there…….Actually we can now say it took 5 years and one month to get there. Yes, that was the distance in time and 3,386 in miles. We had finally arrived! And they were ready, soooo ready for us. After an initial meeting at which we felt the whole world had disappeared and it was just us and them, we looked up to see the entire staff in tears. They shared with us that they thought all those delays meant we had either changed our minds or had not been cleared to adopt them (AKA a failed adoption) and they would have to explain this to them with a psychologist.
Tueday: After signing more papers, we were allowed to leave with them out of the orphanage. I immediately had the same panic and shock I felt when, after having Charlie, the hospital wanted me to take him home all by myself. What the What? The day went surprisingly well! It felt somewhat natural. It helps that I speak Spanish of course but it was mostly Chris’ calm and natural demeanor that made it fun and comfortable for everyone. At the end of the day neither Chris nor I wanted to drop them back off at that place. After hearing their story and seeing where they lived for 3 years (they were in another place for 2 before that) we just wanted to have them with us.
Their orphanage (albergue) is called Hogar de Esperanza (house of hope). It is located in Salaverry Trujillo near a fishing port and, for 2 years now, next door to a Coal factory. Yes, coal. The orphanage now operates entirely on charity/state contributions since the philanthropist douchebag that started it decided he was now bored with it and pulled out with 2 months notice. Honestly, his dad should have done the same! I know, I know, that’s mean of me! But really, who does that to orphan children! Anyway back to the coal discussion. Because of this factory, their entire playground and activity areas are completely covered in a black film that I’m sure can’t be healthy for children. Lack of funding has also made the grass areas bare and non existent, so mainly they play in black dirt. Do you see why we were so hesitant to leave them back there that night? Would you leave your kids there for even one night? Well mine have been there long enough.
Wednesday: We got up early to go back and get them out for the day and we were surprised to find out that the psychologist had made her recommendation for us to be able to keep them with us from then on. They were with us in the hotel until we departed on Thursday night after their goodbye party.
Thursday: We flew to Lima as a family of 5 (6 if you count my sweet Charlie, who has been skyping with the kiddos since). Their first flight went well, granted it was only 50 minutes. They were so shell shocked with everything from sensor opening and closing doors, elevators and escalators, to planes and the crazy Lima traffic.
We are now in Lima in our comfortable apartment where we can start getting them in a routine that will work for us all and I’m happy to say, so far so good. We are getting to know their personalities well and what they like and don’t like. Chris is learning so much Spanish and they are picking up some english just for him. This is what we know of them so far:
Y: Is quite and dainty. She is quite content playing with her dolls and coloring. She will say if someone is bothering her but we are still trying to get her to tell us if she doesn’t like something rather than just eat it.
J: Is funny and playful. He smiles a lot and likes to tell us everything he has experience thus far….in his life….in his whole life….his ENTIRE life. Uhm we are grateful he likes to talk to us and we are learning a lot about them because of it but WOW, Charlie has competition.
L: This one is a bit of a hot mess. She likes cars and playing with soccer balls and getting dirty, yup, Chris noticed I will get along with her best! I knew she was my spirit animal when I found her legit footloose dancing in the bathroom after her bath. Now that is joy!
So that’s it so far guys! We are getting along as best we can here. Pictures will come soon, right now we can’t yet have their pics shown, but soon!! Here are some pictures of the orphanage so you can see what we saw.
27k for 5 year adoption process, 2k in plane tickets, 10k still on reserve for the in-country process, knowing that we are days away from meeting our kids…..PRICELESS. Uhmm no, its actually 39k, cause I can do simple math. Ok so the feeling of meeting them OF COURSE is priceless but heck no, we have put in a lot of our savings into this. We are excited and overwhelmed and nervous and happy. We have all the feelings, ALL of them. But yes, the wait is over. We got the article 5 letter last Thursday and we booked tickets for travel right away. Yes! that’s how fast things happen once everything works out the way its supposed to. At the moment we are settling our affairs before leaving the country for a month and a half. “Settling our affairs” makes us sound so important, basically we are cleaning up, packing, getting someone to watch our pup and hoping no one dies or robs us while we are gone. Nahh I kid, we have nothing worth robbing, joke’s on you robbers, because I got good insurance and I will claim the crap out of my crap to get new crap.
Anyway, we are ready to go!! This time next week we will be in Peru enjoying the good summer weather and waiting anxiously to see them the next day. For the sake of being completely transparent here and keeping it real, I may have thrown up this weekend just from panic and stress about how close we are to the end. Don’t get me wrong I am happy, but I am also scared out of my mind. To be fair, right before I gave birth to my son I was the same way. I know lots of mothers say “I loved my child before they were even born” and who am I to question that, that just wasn’t my case. I didn’t yet know him, I’m sure I was going to love him but while he was in there I was just focused on keeping him alive and nervous as hell at the concept that I had to continue to do this once he was out of my body. When he was born and I met him I knew he was a good egg and I was going to love him forever. Only then, did excited surpassed the nerves. I am counting on that being the same here.
The next blogpost will be from Peru. I will be sharing most of our journey while in country but know that I will be keeping certain things just for us and them. Thanks everyone for following us along in this crazy journey and we will most certainly share how this all ends.
A week ago we finally received the approval to our I-800 document, this is the document that is sent to the U.S Embassy in Peru. My in-country representative will then submit a visa application to a Consular Officer (this part has already been done). The Consular Officer will review the children’s information and evaluate them for possible visa ineligibilities. If its all good, they will notify MIMDES (Peru’s government agency that deals with adoptions). This notification is called the Article 5 letter (invitation to travel to Peru). Once that is issued we can finally buy tickets to go get our kids. It should all be happening in the next 2 weeks. But of course, I say this knowing well how our process has been. This is were we stand at this exact moment. We don’t know if the letter will come tomorrow or next week, everyone assures us that it doesn’t take more than that. However, we know better than to think that this part, this particular part, will be ‘normal’ or on time or uneventful. We know better! There’s not been one part of this whole journey that has been normal or on-time. Sometimes I reread the earliest posts I have in this blog, the parts where I’m still excited about how soon this can happen, the parts where I still don’t know how brutal, painful even and long this process will be. I read 5 and 4 year old posts and I think, right here, this is where I could have stopped, this is where we could have seen how hard this would be. I read the early parts that appeared hard and I laugh and tell 4 year ago me, “if you only knew”. Now, would I go back and stop it? I can honestly say, NO.
I had a trip planned to Hawaii for next month that I recently had to cancel since we will now be in Peru. If things would have worked the way it has worked for everyone we know that has adopted from Peru I would have been back a month ago but of course that has never been our journey. Canceling that trip was hard for me. I was going with really good friends and we had planned this long ago. I’m sad about that! I can be sad and disappointed and at the same time excited about finally going to Peru to meet these children. Depending on the day, the scale tips in one direction more than the another. I guess Hawaii will always be there. Too bad that I won’t be experiencing it for the first time with these amazing ladies.
Jobs on hold, vacations on hold, we continue to wait! Almost there now they say, and we just really hope that’s true.
So its 2019! And you know what we don’t have? Our kids! The mistake that Customs and Immigration made has cost us a month in delay and of course it took us right into the government shut down. Now I heard that fee-for-service-activities within the department continue as normal, however, the process is slow because they still rely on the part that is shut down. I think I have said it before, but throughout this entire process, for our family, if something could have gone wrong, it did. But more than that, we actually even stumped some people about new ways that things could go wrong, so you are welcome. We are a cautionary tale! I mean, why did I think the last part was going to go smooth? Here we are welcoming 2019 with more questions and more wait time than we thought we would have at this point. If I were to sit down and think about it too long, I will probably fall apart and I don’t do that. I have to say, we are one stubborn and relentless family. For better or worse, we are marching on against all the odds and obstacles that have been thrown our way. This is a trait that my better-half has always possessed but not one that people would use to describe me. Seriously, I was too lazy to transfer phone numbers and contacts over last time I got a new phone so “new phone, who dis” was me for almost a year. I am, however, stubborn as a mule, so once we past the 4th year and the process seemed to be against us, I shifted to “oh no! Nobody tells me no” and so here we are. I can’t even say when we will get an approval because nobody truly knows at this point. We have meandered so far from the normal process and timelines that people have had and our agency has seen, that anyone’s guess is as good as ours. All we can do is wait and hope 2019 IS the year. Hopefully the next time I write a post is from a plane entering South America. Happy New Year to you all and thanks for all the thoughts and good wishes!