Monday, March 29, 2010

Fingerprinting Scheduled!

April 9! Brent and I have a date with a person in the HAGUE immigration office who will fingerprint us. I'm so excited! It should be our last time we have to do this! Wondering if I should bring roses and chocolates to show my thanks! LOL!

Nothing much happening around here, adoption wise. Well, I guess there is kind of something. Back on March 1, Sadie our dog, had 8 puppies. So we're working hard keeping them fed and clean and healthy. This litter's costs will go toward the adoption so it's extra special! So far we have 5 families lined up. Pretty good since I only advertised 4 days ago!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Loved this article

This link was so powerful to me, not just about adoption, but about living life as a believer in general.
Read it and tell me what you all think...

Monday, March 22, 2010

They Have IT!

Got the mail today and in it was a letter notifying us that our I800A application was received in the Homeland Security Office and being sent to the HAGUE office for review. Yippee! It's a good thing, too since I mistakenly sent it to the wrong address! Dumb story..... totally a "blond" moment... 

Note to self... never mail through the post office- only through Fed Ex.  Even if it costs you more you should not be a cheapskate with mailing large checks and one of a kind paperwork....and double check addresses (since their offices are moving and locations are changing) so you don't panic and call the Hague office in near tears asking if it would be forwarded to the correct office... and have sweet little old ladies on the other end of the phone in near tears with you since she didn't know the answer but knew how big of a deal this was..... and you keep checking the delivery confirmation code only for it to say undelivered....but then days later seeing the check cashed and praying it was cashed by the correct agency and not by some bum on the street that found the check and application in a dumpster...
But I digress.....
Just send it to the right place


Pretty Stickers are all perfectly affixed on our continually growing dossier. Each document got a notary embossing, a half sheet of paper stapled over the embossing proving the authentication, and a whole sheet of paper with an apostille sticker attached to the top.

Brent and I spent a wonderfully beautiful day travelling from the Harford Co Courthouse, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, and the Secretary of State Office in Annapolis. The weather was gorgeous and surprisingly all went smoothly and quickly. We were finished by lunch! I loved having a chance to be on a date alone with my sweetheart! It seems we've been like passing ships in the night with all the busyness, so it was great to have one on one time!

The next day I mailed off copies of everything to the translator. I am BLOWN AWAY by how much this all costs.

Our agency had quoted us around $1200 for translations (which I thought was highway robbery), but since we have 4 kids and some other birth certificate/name change/2 fingerprint documents/extra medical labs that the labratory wouldn't separate, the grand total is now over....$4,100.00!

I am in shock. Apparently we have somewhere around 30,000 words.

Now, I really want to know who counted all of them!

I am now seriously considering having all our children spend 23 hours a day learning spanish so they can become bilingual certified translators and make a fortune off of people's adoption translations. Just kidding... well... kind of...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The count is on...

Well, I mailed our I800A yesterday! This is paperwork that we submit to the United States Citizenship and Immigration which is part of the Dept of Homeland Security. (It used to be called the INS.) Basically they look at our homestudy and birth certificates and some other papers, make sure we're legal citizens, fingerprint us, and run background clearances on us (this will be our third set of fingerprints and fun.) and tell us if we are permitted to adopt in the US. So it's a pretty big deal for us to get to this point!

This I800A is a fairly new process ever since the United States joined the international HAGUE convention in April 2008. It used to be the I600 form you had to file, but things have changed and an entirely new department was  formed just for people adopting from other HAGUE convention countries. The whole process of doing a HAGUE adoption is much more complicated than before April 2008- or so I'm told. I don't know any different so it seems fine for me. But, talking to other families who were pre-hague, it's a lot of new hassles and red tape. More hoops to jump through and more time added to the adoption process.

So, we are now "on the clock" so to speak! While we are waiting for our I800A approval, which should take about 2 months, I am finishing up our dossier. I now have all the papers I need and tomorrow I go to get them notorized- thank you Patti!!!

Once notorized we have to go to the county courthouses of anyone who has notorized any of our paperwork. I think that will only be Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County, thankfully. Then have to give us a certification that our notary is really a notary. This is called authenticating a document. I think they have a fee, but need to check how much it is...

THEN, we have to go to Annapolis where they put a pretty gold sticker on the paper- called an apostille (at a hefty $5 per document!WHAT?) to prove that the person who certified us at the county courthouse was who they say they are! Whew. Our government at work here, people! Why can't we just go straight to the top and get just the pretty gold stickers???

After we have all the notaries, authentications and apostilles we then mail our dossier to a certified translator in Tennessee who will translate each and every WORD of our documents. And then, get this, she will have to notarize, authenticate and apostille all the documents ALL OVER AGAIN in Tennessee to prove she is certified to translate! Is this only insane to me? LOL! And she charges $.12 per word and $50 an hour to get the certifications and apostilles. Grrr... I just want to know who gets the crummy job of COUNTING all the words! She told us it would take about a month to do the translations.

So that's the part of the journey we are at right now. Wait for immigration approval, get lots of pretty stickers and get all our words turned into Spanish! In about 2 months time our whole dossier should be finished! Then it gets sent off to the Mexico DIF! WOOHOOO!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Adoption Sonogram Day- huh?

I think I shall call this day my Adoption Sonogram Day.  Strange, isn't it.  But that's exactly what I felt.

See, with adoption you still go through a pregnancy of sorts. It's funny how in the adoption community it is even called "being paper pregnant". And I totally get why! You should SEE this big, humdinger of a portable accordian file I carry around filled to overflowing with all our documents. I think it weights about 50 pounds- kinda ironic since I gained exactly 50 pounds with each of my pregnancies.

Of course, no one is allowed to actually carry the paper womb, because I WON'T LET ANYONE TOUCH IT! What if they drop it and the carefully filed papers spill all over the floor? Or they knock a glass over and spill something INTO it ruining our dwindling stash of 4 notarized copies of our homestudy (heaven knows I don't want to pay $35 more just to have a new one notorized by my agency!). Or, what if someone would forget this precious load and leave it sitting on the copier at the library and the librarian moves it to a nearby table just before they come to their senses and realize the horror. Oh, wait. That was me. Uh...

So ANYWAY (sorry, I was getting a little carried away. I'll get serious now.), in my last post, I mentioned that we had heard about another sibling group but we were struggling with the decision of whether to pursue them or not. When I say "we" I really mean "me" unless of course, the context really does mean "we". Got it? Good.

God met me where I was. And, as you could see from the previous post, where I was wasn't all that nice or pretty. I begged for peace. I pleaded for hope. Mostly I asked that I would just feel genuinely excited about these children.  And God, the giver of all life, and breath and joy and peace was faithful. He, over the course of the past week or so, has drawn me out of many waters with His cords of love and has blessed me. He didn't have to. He could have made me linger in the depths of emotional mush, but when I cried out, finally empty of my self, He rescued me and showed me His will. And it is wonderful. Anyone who has wrestled with God over His plan for your life and has lost to such a worthy victor, knows what I'm speaking about. It is wonderful to lose my Self so that I can gain Him. His vision. His will. His joy.

I know I'm rambling again, so on to Adoption Sonogram Day...that is why you're still reading, right?
Today we had the awesome priviledge of talking to our children's orphanage director/caregiver on a conference call. I was armed with a list of questions for her and she answered as many as she was able. I can't tell you how exciting this was! All last night I could barely sleep from nervous excitement! The only thing I can relate it to is the feeling we had the night before a sonogram! Full of giddy joy over getting a peek into who your child is. A little nervous that the news might bring sadness, but mostly just utter excitement! This caregiver was kind of like our sonogram technician! She gave us a little glimpse into our children. What their personalities are, things they like, some of their actual quotes! To think that our children were probably playing in the next room the whole time we were on the phone! It went all too fast, as any sonogram does when you are gazing at a miracle, but I am full of joy anyway with the extra information we were given.

And, so many of the fears and worries that had plagued us over the past few weeks have turned out not to be major issues at all. Oh, it won't be a cake walk when we bring them home, but the future is looking a lot brighter. You have no idea how much I want to just spill the beans and tell all the details. The drama that pulls on your heartstrings. I'm normally a very transparent person. No secrets here. (Often, much to my 12 year old daughter's embarrassment..) But Brent and I haven't figured out how much of the information is the children's story to tell when they feel most comfortable and how much is our story too. So for now, we want to err on the safer side and respect their privacy.

I CAN tell you that the oldest is a beautiful 9 year old girl.  I'll call her "F" for now. She is about a month older than Jake, which he's handling with much graciousness.  Cait is beyond excitement with having a sister close in age so she can do girly things with. F is said to be shy at first, but once comfortable is quite outgoing. She is very motherly and looks after all the younger children in the orphanage as she is the oldest there. This is wonderful but we are trying to prepare Cait to respect the fact that F might not want Cait swooping in to mother the youngest little one since it has been F's role for so long.

"A"  is a 7 1/2 year old boy, and oh, my does he look ALL boy. His ornery grin in the picture reminds me so much of my 3 rascally funloving boys. He'll fit in perfectly. He loves to bounce on the trampoline and all things to do with cars, which Quinn is quite happy about! He is very protective of the younger children and affectionate. His caregiver said he takes great pride in doing "grown up" chores around the home.  I think having 3 brothers will be so good for him.

"B" is the youngest and just turned 6 in February. We keep teasing Quinn that he's going to have an international twin since their birthdays are so close and they are the same age. He likes the idea of having an international twin, but is disappointed it has to be a girl. Especially because in his mind, twins look alike! LOL!
"B" is the most outgoing of the bunch and is said to be happy and cheerful. She is adorable and I can't wait to do the little girl thing all over again with hair bows and baby dolls.

We asked the caregiver if they wanted to be adopted. In Mexico many of the children have the idea that they will eventually go home because often that is what happens. Many children aren't truly orphans, but are sent to the orphanage merely because the parents are too poor to care for them. The children live in hope of eventually going home. So we were curious about how these children felt.

The caregiver just laughed.

A week or two ago a staff person from our agency went to the orphanage to meet the children in person and videotape them (which we can't get the daggone dvd to play, grrr). The children weren't told that it was for adoptive purposes, though. They were excited to get the attention, but F was very curious why this strange American man was there to see them.

She put two and two together and figured out that it had to do with finding them a family. So every day since he left, F has come into her caregivers office and asked, "Have you found us a family? Are we going to be adopted by Senor John (our staff worker)? He is an American. Are we going to the US? How much longer till you find us new parents?"

Does that just rip your heart out? They want someone to love them so badly. I just want to jump on a plane and go get them right now! Forget the stupid International HAGUE Convention laws! These babies need a mom and dad! Now.

So having this little peek into our children's lives has made us very excited. We can't wait to meet them and love on them and fold them into our family. Up till now, Brent has been very even keeled and patient and is constantly telling me it'll happen when it's God's timing. I've been the impatient spaz case!  But just like how he all of a sudden felt like a pregnancy was "real" when he saw our baby in the sonogram, today he admitted to getting antsy (NOT his word by any stretch of the imagination!) for us to go get them. It finally feels REAL today. We are adopting! There will be REAL children at the end of all this! Not just paper! LOL!

I'm a mess...

I wrote this post over a week ago. For some reason I just couldn't post it. My feelings were just too raw and uncertain. I wasn't even sure I was believing what I wrote. Even though I want to write this all down because it's our family's story, I couldn't figure out what was too private and what was ok to say out loud. I'm still not 100% sure, but I couldn't tell our story without the emotion behind it when I wrote it. So, I'm just gonna put it out there and you all will have to know it was just the reality of where I was right then. It's a jumbled mess of train of thought, so I apologize for the incoherancy. I was pretty incoherant though, so it fits...LOL!

Thankfully, my next post will be more upbeat and you will hear some good news! But I had to post this or it wouldn't make sense!


Ok, I'm sorta having "one of those" moments. I just want this adoption to be over with already. I know, I know. I have NO RIGHT saying this since we haven't even finished with our dossier and there are plenty of other families that are having to wait YEARS to get their referral.

I get that. I do.

It's just that, right now... I just want my kiddos to be home.

I just want to get on with the reality of life with three more sweeties. I'm tired of paperwork. I'm tired of obsessing. I'm tired of wrestling with God. I'm tired of laying in bed fighting my fleshly desires to engage in worry.
I just want things to move on from this stage.

But, I know I'm not ready. I haven't been educated enough on attachment issues, or developmental delays, or trauma issues, or neglect and abuse issues, or determined WHERE they will all sleep, or how we will transport them, or how we will afford to clothe them, or  how exactly I'm supposed to fit laundry for 9 into a 7 day week, or how I will homeschool 7 with three that are severely delayed.

But, I'm still missing them. Even though I don't know them. Even though I'm scared out of my mind with the report details we have read. I'm a ball of twisted, mushy, emotions right now. It's not a pretty sight.

Here's the deal...
We saw their photos last Wednesday. We were sitting in the parking lot of Lifeway bookstore, all crowded in the front of the suburban looking at Brent's work computer (THANK GOD FOR WORK COMPUTERS THAT HAVE CONSTANT INTERNET!) when their faces came up in the email. Three little faces staring back at us, haunting me ever since. And I had a horrible emotional knot in my stomach. They were sweet children. Beautiful. I expected to feel elated and excited. It's the moment we'd been waiting for! But I didn't feel it. Nothing. I was just numb. Then I felt guilty because I wasn't elated or excited. Then I felt mad that I was such a lowlife for not being happy over this moment.  And I had to hide it from the kids. I had to smile and force the joy. I never felt more fake.

Up until that point all we'd seen was a psychological report from the children's orphanage. It was daunting. It was filled with really hard stuff. And it had become how I visualized them in my mind. Child #1=dramatic problem A, Child #2=overwhelming problem B, Child #3= get over my expectations C....

I don't want hard stuff. I want sweet little children who will just float into our family seemlessly. .(You don't have to tell me how lame I sound. I know it.) I am wrestling with God over this whole report. I don't wanna do hard stuff. But, I think he's telling us to. But I don't want to.

Their story is very sad and there is lots of potential for us to go through some difficult days ahead. We've prayed and asked for more information about them, searched our hearts over and over. Too quickly my head and heart get all jumbled and tangled together and I can't seem to sort out my fears and my faith.

Mostly, Fear takes the lead and my trust is left in the dust. Then other times, the answer of whether we say "yes" to these lovies is so clear. THEY are hurting. THEY need love. THEY are the "least of these".

Ugh. My flesh is so demanding and forceful. It constantly asserts itself, planting more seeds of doubt. "Can you handle these issues? No way! You're not equipped! There are other, more capable families out there to handle this stuff. What about our birth kids?"

But faith responds back "Of course, I'm not equipped! If you were, you wouldn't need God! Don't you think He's big enough to protect your birth kids and keep your family from falling apart?"

But I keep having to surrender my plans, my expectations to Him. They are older than we'd hoped for. They are in a different location than we were planning on asking for. They have a past that I wasn't banking on. They just weren't what WE were planning on.

Get that? WE.... ME..... I.
Surely, God wouldn't ask hard things of us? Uh, me.

I mean, we're already doing something "huge". Come on, adding 3 more kiddos is enough for God to ask us to do. We wouldn't actually be asked to do something HARDER than just bringing 3 kiddos into our home.... Would He?  Would He?

Well, why in the world, wouldn't He?

He loves me. IF the way He is going to grow me and draw me closer to Him and help me to learn to rely and depend on Him, is through adopting children that are "complicated", then He is going to do it because it is GOOD for me. It is more than good. It is His BEST for me. He wants me to be filled with JOY over what He can overcome in my ugly flesh.

And in His sovereign plan, it is his BEST for these little sweeties, too. Could we-I- really be what they need? No, but He is what they need. And I can show them the way to Him.

This isn't about me. I am merely a tool, a vessel being used by my Lord to further His Kingdom.

I know all the right answers. I know He is in control. He will give us the grace and strength to walk the path He calls us to. I know I will grow in this. I know that right now I am right where I should be. Begging and pleading for peace. Keeping Him busy hearing my heart's cry. I know that surrender is what I need. It just won't come. I'm too busy wrestling. But, I know it will. It will. He has said it would. And I believe Him.