Wednesday, April 28, 2010

quick update

our home study went great yesterday, and i'm relieved to have it out of the way! thankfully, the social worker did not check under the beds, in our drawers or closets, nor did she conduct a white glove test so we should be in the clear!! she even had a great conversation with R, which really warmed my heart. when asked about what role he would like to play if he's still around when we bring our kiddo(s) home from ethiopia, he replied, "i'd be their brother". very heartwarming! ryan and i were in another room within earshot of his interview and both almost shed a little tear...

besides the home study, i have also been working on getting some of the groundwork for our fundraising efforts out of the way. as we continue to complete each next step for the adoption, we have to pay some pretty serious cash towards the adoption. like i've said before, we are trusting that God will fund this adoption if He favors it, but we're not just going to sit around and hope $15,000 shows up on our doorstep. as soon as we receive our completed home study, we hope to begin applying for some adoption grants and possibly even a no-interest loan if it is necessary.

we also hope to begin selling our fundraiser t-shirts in the next 2 weeks! i love, love, love the design and i have to give another shout out to our brilliant designer friend and soon-to-be bride, elizabeth. because of all her hard work and dedication to the cause of bringing home our sweet little one(s), i think you should check out her blog here or buy something from her etsy store here. i promise you won't be disappointed!! if you know any one who would be interested in supporting our adoption by buying a shirt, please let me know! we've order 100 shirts to start with, but i would love to be blown away by how many more we need to order because of additional interest :)

so, that's all i really have for now. ryan and i are off to his boss' house tonight for dinner with some folks from their manufacturing plant in china. i love cross cultural experiences so this should be interesting!

have a beautiful rest of the day :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

my house is spic and span!

we have our last home study meeting today, which includes our interview as a couple, inspection of our home and an interview of R. i'm not really all that nervous about the actual interview, which may be a bad thing?!? i'm definitely much more apathetic this time around compared to our foster/adopt home study...but i guess that's just because we're old pros now, right? hmm...

one of the biggest things that i'm worried about is this crazy amount of kentucky rain we've been getting lately, and the thought of having to keep the dogs in the house during our entire visit. if we just had yawkey, i would not be worried because he's a very sweet and mellow black lab. he would much rather be sleeping at your feet than jumping on you and excitedly trying to get your attention like our first mutt, fenway. i really hope our social worker likes dogs! we've got around 150 lbs of them ready to hang out with her this afternoon...

the other thing i'm worried about is our house looking presentable. even though i know it's not going to happen, i have a fear that our social worker will show up and want to examine every drawer, closet and nook and cranny of our house. this fear has totally cramped my normal style of cramming things in closets and cabinets until company leaves :) despite a very busy weekend, i have been working during any free moments since friday on trying to get things straightened up, which proved to be quite a challenge! cleaning doesn't go as smoothly as it used to now that we have a nearly walking, almost 1 year old and a 13 year whose idea of helping is picking up 1 dirty sock from his floor and playing video games. thankfully, my sweet momma came over last night and really did help me quite a bit. it only took her a good 2 hours to clean R's bathroom, and her only comment was that "boys are gross!". ryan helped quite a bit too and pulled daddy duty last night so i could work without P on my hip all night.

stupidly, i also decided to work the past 2 weeks on transforming a spare room in our basement into my new sewing and crafting domain! i'll have to post some pictures of my new space sometime when i think of it. it's by no means perfect, but it has been quite an undertaking and is all MINE! ryan keeps sarcastically asking me what it feels like to have my own room and saying how nice that must be. to that i say, "get over it" :) i'm the only girl in the house of 3 human boys and 2 doggie boys, so i deserve my own retreat space! plus, it's right next to the laundry room so i can get some clothes washed while i'm working...oh the joys of a full-time homemaker and wife :)
here goes nothing...wish us luck!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

my husband makes me laugh

i got a call yesterday from ryan. he was driving to ohio for a work appointment and i couldn't answer right when he called, so he left me a message. this caught me off guard because he never leaves messages for anyone. i was immediately concerned and listened to his message. thankfully, it just said that he saw something on his drive that made him think of me. he said to call him to find out what it was.

"oh how sweet!", i thought. in my mind, i was imagining that he probably saw something like a brightly colored patch of wildflowers or a pretty rainbow or something that reminded him so sweetly of me. *humble of me, huh?*

nope. it was none of those things!

i called him to find out what it was that made him think of me on a long morning drive to ohio. his response: a box van driving down the expressway with the back doors flung open. *hmmmm...ok, not really what i was expecting.*

he then went on to tell me that he tried to speed up to get a closer look because he was worried that the person didn't realize the doors were open or something. however, as he got closer, he realized that the open doors were very intentional. in fact, he could see a large group of men outfitted in all black, swat uniforms toting some pretty large guns. he quickly backed off his speeding and called me.

to some, this may seem strange but to me, it made me not only laugh but also reminded me how much my husband really does know me! i guess he's been paying attention to large number of real-life cop shows that i frequently watch or record to our dvr receiver: swat, cops, policewomen of broward county just to name a few. according to ryan, i must love these shows because i'm nosy or something!! either way, ryan's thoughtfulness made me smile and put me in a good mood for the rest of the morning.

after his full explanation, my only question was why he didn't follow them to the action :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

*adoption update*

are you surprised? i actually blogged 2 days in a row!!!! i even surprised myself with this one :)

our ethiopian adoption is moving forward! we are definitely still doing the paper chase but i hope to have that wrapped up in the next 2 weeks or so.

unfortunately, things have been complicated quite a bit because of the boys being in foster care. our home study agency requires a background check (for people over the age of 12) and a medical check on even the kids living in our home, and the state wasn't very quick to give us authorization on those things. (just fyi - since the boys are not legally in our custody, we're not even allowed to check them into the ER without approval by the state, you can imagine how getting authorization for background checks and medical history goes!) however, i think we've finally got approval for all the paper components we need for them. praise the Lord!

for my own sake and maybe even for your curiosity, here's where we stand with all the paperwork and preparation stuff for the adoption:

*home study:
-interviews - we completed our individual interviews last tuesday (april 13) and have our home walk through and our couple interview next tuesday (april 27)
-paperwork - we have all our paperwork completed except for a copy of our previous state home study that we are still waiting on. we thought we were going to get out of having to turn this in because our state social worker told us that the state would not release a copy of this, but turns out, they will! we just found this out monday so we mailed off our request form yesterday. i sure wish i would have known that 4 weeks ago but hopefully it won't hold us up too long!

*i-600A form:
-for all you who are unfamiliar with the adoption processing (which i totally was 2 months ago!), this is a form filed with the US citizenship and immigration services. this very costly ($670!!!), 3 page form is where we ask for permission to bring a non-citizen into the US as our child. with filing the form, we are also granted an appointment to be fingerprinted with the FBI ($160!!!) which is required before adoption approval is given.
-according to our lovely, usps delivery confirmation, our form was received in texas on saturday. after polling friends who are also in the adoption process, it seems that it has been taking 6 weeks or so after the form is initially filed to be given a fingerprinting appointment.
-once we are fingerprinted, we also have to forward USCIS a copy of our completed home study. when they receive it, we will most likely wait another 6 to 8 weeks for our final approval. once we are granted this approval, we can send our dossier to ethiopia!!

-a dossier is the packet of documents that will actually be translated into amharic - ethiopia's language, and sent to ethiopia for their government's review. it's basically our whole life summed up into a huge packet of paper.
-we received our dossier paperwork checklist last week from our agency. honestly, i was nervous about all the paperwork it would entail but it's really not that much! most of the paperwork is stuff that we already had compiled for our home study so that helped! just to give you an idea, here are the documents we have to have:

1. letter from our bank stating that we're in good standing (check)
2. physical form with labs from our doctor for both ryan and i (check for me, ryan still needs to get his tb test done but that's it)
3. letter from our health insurance agency stating that our adopted child will be covered on our policy (check)
4. copy of our last 2 years' tax returns (check)
5. local police clearance for both ryan and i (check)
6. 3 letters of recommendations from friends, co-workers, etc. (check)
7. color copies of our passports (check)
8. employment verification letters (in progress)
9. original passport photos (we both need to get some more taken)
10. letter to the ethiopian government stating why we want to adopt from ethiopia (in progress - this has been kind of hard to write! i don't want to say anything that will not put us in a favorable light with their government and i also want to reflect our heart to adopt, which is hard to put in a 1 page letter.)
11. government issued birth certificates (check)
12. power of attorney forms (in progress)
13. an original copy of our approved home study (in progress - hoping to have this done soon!)
14. obligation of adoption form (in progress)

-we have a few ideas floating around for fundraising. mostly, we're really praying that we'll be able to get a matching grant for our fundraising efforts. there are a lot of different organizations that offer these sort of things but all of them require you to first have your home study completed so we can't apply until we get that back. asking people for money is always hard, but we're praying through it and hope the Lord will use this time to humble us and surprise us yet again with how awesome He is. we know all the money in the world is ultimately His, but it's hard to put it in perspective sometimes and to really believe it!
-we're in the middle of working with my wonderful friend and designer, elizabeth on some cool artwork for some fundraising tees. i used to work for this great t-shirt company, hands on originals and tend to be a bit of a t-shirt snob, so i'm really excited about this project! it's our dream to sell 400 shirts at around $20 each to pay for the last big chunk of money ($8000) we'll owe right before we travel. think we can do it?!?! i dunno, but hey, a girl can dream!
-i'm also setting up a craft booth at a farmers market 1 week each month this summer to sell some of my crafts so i can make a few extra bucks for the adoption fund. i'm in the middle of reorganizing a spare room in our basement into my craft room so i'm hoping the new space will keep me motivated to craft some great things that will sell!

i think that's all i've got...hopefully we'll get everything wrapped up on our end soon so that we can kiss our dossier goodbye and send it on to ethiopia. oh what a wonderful day that will be!!

any questions about adoption, ethiopia or anything else?? if so, ask away! maybe it will give me some inspiration to keep blogging too :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

*foster care update*

first, let me just apologize for neglecting my blog so badly lately. i guess it's spring fever or something but i just haven't been in the blogging mood. hmmm...maybe it's the mile high stack of paperwork i've got going for our adoption too?? i dunno, but i do apologize.

so, since it's been so long, i feel like you all are due for an update on our little corner of the world. i'll start with a foster care update and if i'm feeling frisky, maybe i'll tackle an adoption update tomorrow :)

what's new with the boys, huh? well, we had a home visit last week with our SW and the boys' SW. it was our last scheduled home visit before their case goes back to court on may 6th. we (well, mostly just me) were worried about this being the last visit before court because we thought the SW may be coming to tell us that she was recommending the boys for return to their mom at court. however, after a surprisingly pleasant visit with their SW, she informed us of quite the opposite. she said that because of some continued bad choices in the area of personal relationships, she would not be recommending that the boys' mom receive the kids back yet. she even went a step further and said that she would even be recommending that their mom not even get unsupervised visits yet. keep in mind though, the goal of the case is still "family reunification", NOT adoption so it is still on everyone's radar screen to send the boys back to their mom, just maybe not as quickly as we thought.

in the past, the boys' SW has recommended that we not attend court, but after a little more questioning by ryan, she agreed that it would be fine with her if we were there on may 6. apparently she expects the session to last around 3 hours so hopefully we'll gain a lot more insight during that time, especially regarding the state's outlook on the case. while i'm not thrilled to be sitting across the courtroom from P's dad, we have to get information when we can so we're going!

speaking of him, we haven't heard much on P's dad lately. it seems that he's totally off program and has no interest in working his case plan. he did attend one drug screening in the last few months but left when they told him that it would be supervised. please understand that this is the same man who previously used other people's urine to pass drug screens so i'm not sure why he thought he'd be allowed an unsupervised screen, but obviously he's not the brightest crayon in the box! it breaks my heart to look at sweet, mischievous, loving little P and think of all his dad is missing out on!! it's definitely his dad's loss...

so, here we are over 7 months in to this journey, and absolutely in love with these boys! sure, we have had our fair amount of trials and struggles, especially with R, but that is to be expected. he's 13 for heaven's sake and i don't think there are many parents of teens that can say they've had absolutely no problems. (if so, where are they? can they give us some parenting advice because we need it!!) however, any struggles we've had to this point do not negate the fact that we love the boys and want the best for them...which at this point, we still feel like is with us.

i guess we'll just continue to play the "wait and see" game. our state's laws say that after a child has been in foster care for 15 out of 22 months, they have to move to change the goal (aka- from "reunification" to "adoption"). we're at the half way mark now but so much can change quickly! all we know, is that we're in it for the long haul...however long that is! we're making it right now in this weird and wonderful world of foster parenting and we know that if it is God's plan to add R & P to our family permanently, He will provide for us then just as He is doing now.

that's all for now folks! check back tomorrow for another update and be impressed if i've actually done it :)