2018 finished out in a blur and all of a sudden it’s February 2019. While we have not been overly present here on social media in the last few months, it does not mean that we’ve been lazy! We have so many good things to share (especially one monumental one, that we CAN’T share fully yet).
One of our favorite traditions is to grab sushi and go through my list of year-end questions. There’s always WAtooto many questions, but it’s good for conversation.
You can grab a more simplified worksheet for your next year-end review by emailing me here! I’ll send it your way ASAP!
Several words come to mind as we think back to our year: re-direction, adoption, preparation, joyfulness, and hardship. Sometimes I get to the end of the year and can think about how we have missed documenting our journey here in Izmir, but every year, this recap shows me HOW MUCH WE HAVE!!!!
Here is our recap of 2018:
🔅Jason and his brother rewrote and relaunch bltn in January.
Jason has to be the best husband ever (proud wife bragging rights). We for sure have our multiple disagreements about how to most everything – yep, we are complete opposites for the most part. BUT he is definitely the one who adapts and shifts his desires to suit us way more than I seem too. Maybe because I like everything? 😉 jk.
Last fall Jason started running – for me. The last 4 years of our marriage, he has seriously and politely denied all my attempts to start running with me consistently. But he saw how happy it makes me to run with someone and decided that, with my other running buddy eventually moving away, he would fill the void.
Plus, running/exercising is good for him – the hard working, computer engineer that he is.
It was tough at first, but he pushed through. By December, he was able to do a 5k without stopping. Every other day we went out and did his exactly 5k route while listening to a podcast(mostly to distract him from the fact that he was actually running).
And Christmas 2017, he gifted me with a 10k race that we would run together in February 2018 Dubai Desert Road Run in the UAE! IT WAS THE BEST SURPRISE.
We started to train together and did a few longer runs to prepare for the 6.4 ish miles to come.
And in February, JASON RAN HIS FIRST RACE EVER.
Y’all, I was GIDDY with PRIDE! You see, I grew up running with my family. Heck in 2016, before we moved to Turkey, my family based our get-together around the Chicago Half-Marathon with my mom and sister. Jason by that point had learned how to find us multiple times on the route to take pictures of us and cheer us on, all happily from the sidelines.
But this time, we ran with me!
And the race was HOT and SWEATY and the course was NOT SO FUN. But we both finished it!
You can LISTEN to our experience via Episode047 of our podcast.
The following are pictures from a proud wife loving every minute of this first race with her hubby:
So proud of you babe! (Jason, if he reads this! That would be creepy if I was talking to you the reader!)
Questions for you:
What is your favorite way to exercise?
Have you done something you didn’t like just because you knew it would bless you significant other?
So let’s start at the beginning where is the beginning…. oh, goodness, where’s thebeginning?
I’m gonna chat about 3 things:
Why we want to adopt
Why we want to adopt now
What that process will look like for us
Why we want to adopt
Let’s start with why we want to adopt in the first place. Bothof us, even before we knew each other – before we started dating or got married, we’ve both had a desire to adopt. If you ask my parents if you ask anybody who knows me well, it’s always been something that I have had a passion for and have desired to do in the future. A desire to add to your family, not from just biological kids but adding through adoption. Taking care of other children and have them in your home, to become part of your family, is something that I’ve always wanted to do. Also, we hope to be able to make a better, lifelong change for a child who, through no fault of their own, lost their family or their family couldn’t provide for them. We hope to provide for a child like that and give them a hope in the future – a safe place to grow up.
This desire for adoption is also something that’s really important to us in our faith. We believe that God adopted us as His children, and likewise, we too are called to provide and adopt other people into like our lives and into our homes – one way to do that is through adoption
Why we want to adopt now
Currently, we don’t have any children of our own and it is something that we do desire and hope one day we will have. However,\ at the same time, we have wanted to have adopted children. Whichever one comes first for us is just as equally exciting. Since we’re of the age where we want to have children and we want to start a family, we know too that the adoption process can take a while. These factors lead us to decide that now is a good time to start the process.
We knew that the adoption could take awhile and we thought: Well, if we know we want to adopt sometime in the future and if it’s going to take a few years maybe to actually finish the adoption, we should just start the process now so that in a few years you know we’re further down the trail and we can keep going with it.
Last fall (2017) we started talking about it more seriously and I, in my usually excited nature, have a way of getting way ahead of Jason. To be fair though, I have been asking Jason if we can go ahead and adopt kids since we got married. Basically, I’ve been fixated on it for quite some time, knowing now is the time for sure that we should move forward. Regardless of my intuition, I had coasted really far down the road of researchingall of these agencies and knowing everything about everything about adoption, and Jason had barely done any research. Jason had to tell me to stop and remind me that we need to make this decision TOGETHER.
From that discussion, wedecided to read a book aboutadoption it’s called Adoptive For Life. The book was really helpful for us to learn about adoption and helped us talk through what type of adoption we should pursue. After reading it we decided, “okay, let’s let’s do this!”
Thankfully, we found some fellow expats who bothlive in Turkey and adopted. Per their agency recommended and our research, we applied to use them. Since we’reliving overseas and this agency knowshow to work with people overseas, it seems like a great fit so far.
What that process will look like for us
The process of adoption looks different for everyone. While there are lots of reasons people go with domestic or international, we have chosen to go through an international adoption instead of a domestic adoption. From reading the book together and talking about adoption together, we felt that while we are living in Turkey, adopting from a nearby country would be absolutely great and easier for us.
I’ll share a lot more specifics about the adoption as we go along, both via videos first then transcribe it to a post like this one. Right now we’re still pretty early in the process and so there’s a lot of things we just don’t know yet. Some of those being:
we don’t know we don’t know how long it’s may take
we don’t know who the kids are
how many kids we’re going to adopt (yes, we get to decide!)
We are really excited about the adoption and there are going be ways that y’all can support us through this journey. We asked right now for your support and your encouragement.
As well we hope to encourage other people too who want to adopt – especially those who live overseas. We hope you will consider. Just because you live in another country, doesn’t mean that you can’t adopt.
Questions for you folks out there! I want to hear from you!
Have you adopted before?
Do you hope to adopt in the future?
Any positive words or tips you have for us as we go through this process?
Note about adoptions in Turkey: Adopting from Turkey is basically impossible for us. That being said, we didn’t even try to adopt from the Turkish system, and we don’t actually know if it’s impossible for us. We’ve heard from many other people who have lived here as expats that adopting from Turkey that is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Some of the rules make it hard for even Turks to adopt. However, it can be possible to have a private foreigner to foreigner adoption through the courts, but it is not easy to come by. It is something we hope to be considered for in the future.
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Like all travel writers out there, seeing your article and photos in print give me such pride! Some of my photos were published in a passed issue of Lale Magazine, but this month features my first full article with photos for this magazine titled Reminiscing Romantic Romania.
Lale Magazine is an expat magazine produced by the IWI, International Women of Istanbul. The bi-monthly magazine is shipped to over 600 private home, as well as all advertisers and sponsors. The readers are comprised mostly of Turkish nationals married to foreigners, but also foreigners living in Istanbul. It is full of helpful information about local schools, exhibits for art and workshops, and experiences with IWI groups. There aren’t a lot of English print magazines in Turkey, so this is a fun magazine to have available!
Here is the start of the article:
Bucharest, once known as the little Paris of Romania, set an example for its outlying villages, like Braşov. Following suit, they look like small Parisian villages with their crepe stands and cafes making a boulevard down main street. Often overlooked on the regular European tourist trail, Romania remains an eminently worthy travel destination in its own right. Romania is a great country for those who’ve seen all the major European cities and want to get away from the overcrowded tourists hot spots. I found that Romania offers plenty of tourist attractions without the craziness of tourist groups, lines, and prices.
In June, my husband and I met up with some of our expat friends, Ben and Marie, in Romania for a 5-day reunion. Our traveling group consisted of 4 adults and 2 babies. Our friends, coming from Dubai, wanted to escape the boiling, brown desert for cooler green, lush forests. We just wanted to enjoy some European foods not readily available in Izmir and more reasonably priced than Paris or London, for example. And we both hoped to escape our towering apartments for a few hours via a roadtrip through the mountainous central area of the Romania.
Romania’s 20 million people are spread over 240,000 square kilometers, perfect for a road trip meets city type adventure.
Currently, we are working to re-apply for our visas. Our 1 year visas are coming to a close, and we are submitting our visas to live in Turkey for another 2 years!
As I wrap up part 3 of our EXPAT YEARS Series, I share 10 things we have learn our first year as expats.
Try to stick with your original plan. (Which we did not do…)
Jason and I agreed before we moved that renting a furnished apartment would be the best option. We could potentially pay more for our home but save money the first year. It would give us time to make sure we were in the right location and look for a more permanent rental that we knew we really liked.
Having great neighbors is worth your apartment rent and location.
Brightside to #1 is our #2. One of the main reasons we love our place is our neighbors. It took a while to get connected with our neighbors, but it is worth all the effort in the world to have good relationships with them. Our neighbors have had us over for tea, invited me into their women’s group, brought us food after my surgery, and even watered my flowers while we were gone for 2 months this summer.
Humans are created to be in community, and while you may not need a large community, it is still important. Married 2.5 years when we moved, Jason and I were comfortable with just being with each other, but we both knew it was not healthy. Community brings a network of helpers and advisors that can support you. Community creates friendships which, while they can’t replace your best friends back ‘home’ it can help ease times of homesickness and loneliness. Lastly, community gives you belonging and identity which is crucial to thriving long term in another country. All is important when moving to another country.
When I moved to Istanbul, Turkey as a single gal, it was also the first time I moved outside of the U.S.A. I found that celebrating the little accomplishments helped me see growth. I would celebrate the number of months living in a city of 20 million people much like newlyweds celebrate each month of marriage until their first anniversary. Make a list of things you will have to learn, and check them off as you learn them. Or write down things you have learned since moving such as buying furniture, refilling your transportation card, or have the air conditioner fixed.
This is so important! Taking a break every once and awhile is good! We were in Turkey 4 months before heading out to Germany for Christmas. After moving, living in an airbnb for a month, buying furniture, fixing issues with our newly (yet not truly lived in) renovated apartment, starting language… needless to say, we were ready for a break! We actually left our apartment in the hands of a Turkish friend for one day after we left so the leaking roof could be replaced. A break was important and usually is needed in the first 4-6 months. So whether it is just outside the city or another country, get out of town for a bit and relax.
Reflect and evaluate
While celebrating and taking a break are both great things to do, one of the most helpful tip is to reflect. We reflect together every new year, sometimes over our anniversary celebration, and even when other friends ask us questions. If you are learning a language it is helpful to reflect on what works and doesn’t work, and especially what you have learned to see progress. Scheduling time reflect on your work, personal like and projects is more helpful than you think and can encourage you as you in times of need.
Unless you are an English speaker in an English speaking country, learning the local language is always a good choice. (Although I do hear France is brutally unkind about new french language learners).
Is it easy? NOT AT ALL. But have I found (the second time around, and with a longer term vision in mind) that the more I try to speak, the more others appreciate it.
Will it take time? ABSOLUTELY (that was more for myself). With other projects on the burner, Jason and I are working part-time to learn Turkish and it has been worth every hour.
Keep up at least 1 hobby that you loved back home
Sounds weird but this one little task can make a bad culture day look brighter and mellow out sadness. Like to play guitar? Bring yours or buy one as soon as you can. Enjoy crossstitching, bring your needles and threads. Love to run and exercise, join a gym. You will not regret investing into the hobbies that bring you joy.
Explore all the local food … and maybe even cook it
These Funks love trying new foods, and even though we had both lived here before, I have found there to be so many foods I had never tried. Food opens a whole different door into the culture and locals you are learning about it. Be adventurous, and order that food you don’t know how to pronounce. Try and then record it in a book and either note how great it was or wasn’t!
Your family and friends won’t forget you, but it usually looks different.
You may find it challenging to connect when you return, especially if they aren’t able to come visit you. However, they will still love you! Returning home could require some preparation on your part and you find learn more about that in our next EXPAT SERIES: Going Home.