Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!!

Here we are, standing in the last day of 2007. Looking back over this year I have a lot of fond memories. We moved into our dream home, watched my baby start preschool, enjoyed Disneyland and San Diego with my family and began our adoption journey. It's hard for me to be sad about leaving 2007 when I know that in 2008 we will bring our daughter home!! I know for me just being in 2008 makes me feel closer to Emily. So while 2007 was a nice year, I'm ready to move on..."Onward" as my grandma says. So...bring on the new year!! I am so ready for you!!!

My hope is that this is the year that everyone's dreams of growing families comes true.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Receipt Received

I collected the extra documents needed for my I-600A and mailed them on Thursday. I just received my certified receipt that the documents were received by USCIS on Friday, Dec 21st. We are hoping to have our approval back by the end of January.

Hope everyone is enjoying this Holiday season. Christmas is almost here! We have actually finished our christmas shopping and our grocery shopping. We may actually be all ready for X-mas Eve and X-mas day one full day early this year. This is rare for us and it is nice. The boys are very excited and ask everday, "Is today Christmas?" It sure is hard to wait when you are little.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I-600A update

On Friday I got a call from the USCIS officer handling our I-600A application. Wow!! If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is. Getting a call...not waiting for news through the mail. Wow! He confirmed that he has received our entire file and that our fingerprints came back clear. There are no words for that simple gift. He is requesting 3 additional documents and then they can finalize our application. Maybe I did have a little luck from someone watching over me. Just three more documents...okay this I can handle. I have one of them, one is being mailed to me and one more we have to figure out where to go to get it. I'm hoping with a little more luck to be able to certify the rest of these documents and send them off to him by Friday. Hopefully, we will hear back sometime in January. I feel so much better already!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My adventure to my local USCIS office

I was expecting to receive good news in the mail regarding our I-600A any day now. Our local office was reporting 3 month turn around times and my application was sent in late August and my homestudy completing the application followed in Sept so that put me at the end of December at the latest. Well, imagine my surprise and disappointment when I got a letter from USCIS asking for additional evidence to support my application. Here is the request:

1) Evidence of Health Coverage Insurance for your adopted child
2) Evidence of financial ability- Submit I-134 Affidavit of Support
3) Evidence of employment-letters from your employers regarding annual earnings, years of employment and future employment prospective
4) Copy of your income tax return form 1040 for year 2006

The letter then goes on with some very unclear wording that leads me to believe they haven't received our fingerprints or our homestudy. Which unfortunately really worried me as the instructions for the fingerprint receipt was to fax immediately and the homestudy was sent from my homestudy agency so I don't know if it was sent certified mail as that seems to be the only way you have some confidence that the USCIS office guarantees receipt.

I was advised from an adoption forum I'm on to "info pass" the office and meet in person to get this cleared up. I first called a 1-800 number for the USCIS and was given an email for my local office. I sent an email off asking for confirmation of what is in my file and my application number because I didn't even have that. I was told 2 days turn around on the phone to hear's been 5 days no return email. So I made my info pass appt and went down there this morning thinking I was going to be able to get this all straightened out and hand the INS officer a copy of absolutely everything all stapled together, cover letter, etc. and be confident that it was all taken care of. Not exactly.

So here was my fun morning at USCIS. You stand in line outside but can not be more than 15 mins early. You have to bring your paperwork as well as the printed appt. time confirmation and your id. Leave all cell phones, camera, or other electronic devices in your car or you will be sent back to the car...that was me. Just like going through airport security put shoes, bags, files in bin and proceed through metal detector. Proceed to yellow line. Stand in another line to get a number only after the man at the window issuing you a number is satisified that you are worthy of an appt. Once given a number sit down and wait for your number to be called. It's a huge room with 15 teller like windows across the front of the room, of which only 3 are operating. It's best to get an early appt so you are not there all day even though you are given an appt time on-line.

Finally, my turn. The INS officer misunderstands the purpose of my visit and tries to dismiss me right off the bat. She thought I was there regarding my I-600. When I explain that I tried to email first for an explanation. She quickly gets upset and informs me that all adoption paperwork is submitted through the mail only not via person, phone or email. There is no phone or email for this dept and she does not know where that email went to. I'm outta luck there...strike 2. I explain to her my situation, that I did correspond through mail too and that I need to confirm with someone what is in my file. That I don't have another 4 months to wait for correspondance and I don't understand the wording about my fingerprints and homestudy. Do they have them or not?

She recognizes my INS officer and it turns out to be a male not a female as I thought I had been corresponding with. She assures me it is a man and that he is at a meeting or she could ask him right now for me. What are the chances? I think at this point she takes pity on me. It is a screwy system afterall and she likes my youthful face. She offers to take my completed stapled set of documents and place them on his desk because I came all this way. But this is not how it works she reminds me. She writes a note to him explaining that all the papers are there and that I would like written confimation back that my file is complete. Then she tells me there is no guarantee she can offer me that he has received this file even though she will put it on his desk. The only way to guarantee that is received by USCIS is to send a second set certified mail as that is my receipt/record that they have received the documents. She refuses to give me her name and tells me not to come back and be upset if I don't send in a second certified set through the mail if he says he did not receive the first set that is sitting on his desk. I agree, what else can I do? I watch her take a few seconds to walk next door and return back to me. "It's on his desk," she says, and "Good Luck" is her last words to me. "Thanks," I reply..."I'm going to need it." Now, being a superstitious person that I am, I can't help but notice my appt was made for the 13th and window 13 helped me. My grandpa's favorite number was 13 so I want to believe maybe he was helping me a little today. I know it's a stretch but I need all the luck I can on this without permission from the US govt to bring home a foreign child there is nothing more anyone else can do for us.

So this afternoon I will make yet another set of copies and send off certified mail a second set addressed to this man not woman and see where that gets me. I'm so glad I had the forethought to have 2 sets of the I-134 Affidavit of Support notarized. That sure saved me a trip! In the meantime, I'm still hoping to travel on my first trip in the spring and hope I have some conclusion before then as I won't be able to get a court date without this important document.

On a happier not...I hope everyone's holidays are bringing them joy. I'm excited for Carrie and Michael about the referral of their little boy! What a special time of the year to receive such wonderful news! Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Life Book

I've been so obsessed with reading blogs, FRUA, yahoo groups and staring at the Russian Database that I've decided to also focus and use my energy on getting something constructive done for Emily. So I visited Michael's craft store today and bought some fun new papers and dooh hickeys to use in Emily's lifebook. I'm so excited! I go through creative waves and hadn't scrapbooked in ages and this little venture really got my creative juices flowing!!

I spent all of the boys naptime scrapbooking. I'm going to try and think up layouts and scrap them ahead of time and then can later go back and plug in the photos and journaling.

So far I have come up with the following ideas for her book:
Intro page: early baby photo or referral photo and then birth info.
Birth Family page
Life at the orphanage: letters from caregivers, details of schedule, food, friends
Milestones or any relevant medical info, measurements, etc
The city she was born in: if we get a chance and have the info would love to see the town or hospital she was born in

What are some other pages/ideas that I can add that are about her story in Russia? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dreaming again!

Now that our dossier has been submitted, we have nothing to do but wait and finish up our education requirements. So... I've allowed myself to dream and play. Besides spending a lot of time on the Russian national database staring at the baby girls that are in our agency's regions and trying to imagine which child will be ours, I have allowed myself to buy things for her room. Fun things like bedding, curtains, books, clothes and a doll!! is so fun!!

I have chosen a few very cute dresses and sweaters from Gap to be the first pieces of clothing I bought for Emily. I was guessing around 12-18 months. They arrived in the mail the other day!!! I was so excited!! After spending the past 4 years buying boy clothes in the colors; blue, red, green and orange it was so thrilling to add new colors like pinks, creams, tans, and browns. And tights! Dresses!! So cute!! They are so small!! I lovingly hung them up in her closet.

I have also started to think more about her bedroom. We are going to use the crib Bubba is currently using as his big boy bed. We are thinking in January we will get him a twin bed and put the crib away for a month or two and then bring it out and set it up in Emily's room. I already bought her bedding. I've been staring at this bedding for awhile and looked at it again last week and suddenly noticed it was on sale. I had to quickly buy it before it was gone!! Here is a photo of the bedding in Bubba's crib. The photo is from a catalog. Emily's room is pink.

I also ordered this sign to hang on her wall..of course it says Princess Emily. And here is her first doll!! Chances are by the time she comes home we will have missed her 1st the doll is our gift for her 1st birthday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We just had an earthquake!!

Wow!! At 8:05pm we just had a 5.6 magnitude earthquake. I haven't felt one that strong since the big one in 1989 at 6.9. I had just walked downstairs after kissing both boys goodnight. The whole house just shook very fast and very strong. I almost lost my balance and just saw all the pots on my potrack swinging back and forth. I yelled out my husband's name and ran back up the stairs to grab my boys out of their beds. My youngest was face down in his bed...he thought he had caused it. My other son thought it was fun and wanted to do it again!! Ugh!!

It's funny, I had so much to get done tonight and was thankful that the boys were in bed so I could get started. And now...still a little shakey, I'm glad we are all fine and we are huddled around the TV to hear more and wait out all the aftershocks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

We're Back!!

Wow!! Where does time go? I wanted to post a lot earlier but unfortunately my sons' preschool is keeping me very, very busy.

The highlight of our trip...meeting with our agency. We spent most of Friday with them going over the adoption process, what to expect, working on our dossier paperwork, and asking and answering lots of our questions about everything adoption related. We also got a chance to meet all of the staff that we will be working with on our adoption and post adoption. I did not realize until after we met how comforting that really see the face on the otherside everytime I call..and to see the agency, their offices and where it is in the world...basic stuff but what a HUGE difference that makes for us.

We are grateful for the time they have given us and know we are in really good hands. I finished the rest of our paperwork today and will send it in tomorrow. And now we wait. We don't expect to hear anything until maybe spring.

So...the official wait begins for our baby girl!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We are on our way!!

We are all ready to go to the airport. We are set to fly to the east coast by noon today. We have an appt first thing in the morning with our placing agency!! Yeah!! We are so excited. I'll let you all know how it goes!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Have you had any trouble getting a document?

So..the paperwork trail is long and time consuming for an adoption. Some documents are relatively easy to get and some take months to get. Some are very simple and some seem a little bizarre in their request. For the most part, the entire process has been pretty smooth and easy and no matter what we have asked of people, no matter how unusual the request, people have been willing to help us.

We are now at the final document (for the moment) required by our placing agency for our dossier. It seemed to me to the be the easiest of all the paperwork to get. It was a simple 2 line letter written on our mortgage company's letterhead that said something to the effect that we were the "record owners" of the home we live in. Doesn't sound to hard. Much easier than all the lab work and medical exams or the 2 hour psych evaluation or the entire homestudy process. How hard would it be to get your bank to write out 2 lines and mail it to you? How hard could that be? Never will I estimate if something is easy or hard again.

I contact a Vice President of the bank that holds the loan for our home. It just so happens that we also have some personal accounts at this bank as well and we have spoken by phone before. So I explain our situation, send her the sample letter our placing agency required, gave her our loan number so she could verify our loan. Explain that the wording "we" "owner" "home address" needs to be included in the letter. That a copy of the title or mortage statement will not do. This is all stated in the directions of the sample letter I've sent her. I also mention that we are needing this letter in 3 weeks time as we are traveling to the east coast then. She tells me, "This should be no problem, I'll get back to you in a couple of days and we should have this for you." "Great," I say. Done. or so I think.

A few days later, she calls and gives me an update. The bank wants to know what the letter is for "exactly" as they are feeling a little unsure of using the word "we" and "owners" of our property because of the fact the bank has the first loan on the house and thus we don't technically own it outright. "Yes" I understand this hesitation. I explain again that since it is coming from our mortgage company it is assumed that we have a loan on the property, however we are on title as the owners, our property taxes are being addressed to us and not the bank and it is just a necessary requirement for an adoption in Russia. Different country, different rules, translation issues, etc.

So she agrees to relay this explanation and to see what they can come up with. A week later I receive the letter. Unfortunately, it does not say anywhere that we are the owners of our home instead that we are the "borrowers" of a loan of our home. I fax it over to my placing agency to see if this is good enough. "No" is the reply. The wording "owners" is very important and will be understood in Russia. So a little desperately as I'm now down to 2 weeks, I send an email to the person who wrote the letter. A very emotional and personal email about our situation, about all that we have gone through to get this far and how this one little letter will hold up our dossier and make it so we can't move forward to bring our little girl home. She calls within minutes and says, "Do not worry, we will do the letter again and send it to you." This was 2 weeks ago today. I emailed last Friday, to inquire about the status and remind her we are traveling next week and need to bring that document with us. No reply. I left a message today. No word. I'm a little nervous and if I don't hear tomorrow I will politely inquire again with the same Vice-President I intially spoke with.

Has anyone had a similar experience? Run into a problem at getting an important document? I'm wondering what else I can do other than drive down to the bank and plead in person. Which I may just do anyway if I don't hear from her soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The MMPI-2 Personality Inventory

Last week I had my appt with a psychologist to take my MMPI-2 psych evaluation as required by some regions in Russia. I've never had an appt with a psychologist before. She was very nice and actually specializes in adoption issues in kids. She agreed to give hubby and I the test, score it and do the write up of the results and get it back to us in time to bring it with us next week for our dossier.

The actual test was something else. What an experience that turned out to be. Generally this test is used for those screening new applicants or anyone interested in measuring how a person copes with worry/stress/anger.

It is a scantron type test with 571 True or False questions. It took me 2 hours to complete the test. For the most part the questions were bizarre. The first question asked, true or false "I read Mechanics magazine". There were also several dark questions that asked if voices were talking to me, if I wanted to kill myself and then the very next question would be..true or false.. "I would like the work of a forest ranger." Or.."if you were an artist would you want to paint flowers?" Does your stomach hurt most of the time, does your throat hurt most of the time. Okay. It was so bizarre that I couldn't believe this was going to be helpful to anyone about whether I could parent a foreign born child or not. And what could someone write about that person based on how they answered. I guess if you anwered True to all of the... "do you want to hurt yourself or others?" or True to all of the "you are angry and upset with the world most of the time" that would be a red flag but what about the other 350 questions about random stuff like being an artist and painting flowers?

Next week we get to meet with the psychologist and go over her summary of each of our test results. I can't wait to see what in the world she writes.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I-600A application complete!

I called to check in with my homestudy agency. I hadn't received my "official" copy of our homestudy yet in the mail and wanted to check to make sure they had sent in our homestudy to the USCIS office and also to our placing agency. Yeah!! She did not forget and it was mailed on Sept 27th, 2007. I was so excited. It's funny how something so simple can make your heart flutter with absolute joy. Yeah! yeah! I'm hoping our application will be processed quickly so we can send in our dossier.

We are just a little over a week out before our big trip to the east coast. I'm so excited to meet with our placing agency. We have started our big list of questions. I can't wait to hear all that they have to say. I'm also a little nervous about what they will tell us, esp concerning the wait time. Hubby is finally picking up speed in becoming interested in the adoption issues. He has bought a few audio books to listen to in the car while he is commuting to and from work. We have had many interesting conversations this week about what he has been learning. I'm so glad he is taking this initiative. And what good timing too, before our visit with our placing agency!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We have plane tickets!!

Yeah!! Plane tickets!!! Where are we going you ask? Is it Russia?? No, silly, we haven't sent in our dossier yet. We are going to the east coast for 3 days mid October to meet with our placing agency. It will be a very fast trip and because of the 3 hour time difference ahead of CA, we have chosen to go without the boys. I don't think Bubba would make it and frankly, I really want to make a good impression with our agency and I just don't think that's possible with a toddler that's had to sit through a 6 hour flight, is 3 hours off of his schedule and is expected to sit quietly through a half day meeting which starts at 5:30am CA time. I'm actually not sure I'm going to make it... but I'm sure going to try. Luckily, I've heard there is a Starbucks in the lobby of our hotel. Thank you Starbucks!

I would totally be excited about our chance to be away alone together, far away from the kids with a little measure of adult fun. Staying at a nice hotel...a little bit of a nightlife. Getting dolled up and hitting the city. Dining out among other adults with no kids. It would be a dream of a date night, if I wasn't so nervous about meeting with our adoption agency. I really want this to go well. I want to work with this agency and I'm hoping they are everything I'm expecting them to be. And more importantly, I really am hoping there are no surprises that I'm not aware of in the adoption process. There is bound to be some surprises of course, but I hope I have the general idea of what is expected and there are no huge surprises or unexpected turns in the road ahead.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dare to Dream...Is it safe yet?

I have wanted a little girl for as long as I can remember. I had names picked out since I was a girl...of course they always change. But I always imagined I would have a daughter. When I used to volunteer in the dependency court I would chose girl cases to manage and sometimes I would really fall for a child and wonder what it was like to be her mother. (None of them were available for adoption, they were all going to go home at some point.) Even reading all of the other adoption blogs where their children have come home I still felt very guarded and wondered would that happen for us too? International adoption is not without it's ups and downs and I know not everyone has had a happy ending. So it's safe to feel guarded and not wanting to get too attached too hopeful. Of course, on the inside I'm hooked, totally taken over this little child on the other side of the world that's waiting in an orphanage for a mommy and daddy. And even though we haven't even met and I know nothing about her I can't help but feel for her.

On Friday, was the first time I let myself think outloud that it could really happen with us bringing her home when I talked with our placing agency. He said as soon as he received a roughdraft via fax of our homestudy we could go ahead and meet with them and work on our dossier documents. Wow!! Such a quick conversation but so much hope in his words. It just almost felt for a small moment like such a real possibility!!

So as long as I'm daydreaming, I thought I would share a few things I have found for Emily. I haven't bought too much for her yet but I did buy a couple of cute things. She has inherited a few baby things from her brothers that were unisex; toys, blankets, clothes and most of the nursery furniture..the crib and changing table/dresser. The first thing I bought is this "bunnies by the bay" lovey in cream for her to have at the orphanage. It says, "best friends indeed." I plan to sleep with it a few nights before we travel so that she has my smell with her. My boys have a satin edged blankee lovey that they sleep with every night since they were a year old so I'm excited for my little girl to have a lovey too. I need to get another one, just in case something happens to the first one.

I also bought this cute tinkerbell dress- up outfit for when she is close to 3 years old. I saw this right after we got back from Disneyland. Everywhere you are in Disneyland you see these cute little preschool girls wearing their adorable princess dresses. I couldn't resist. I could hardly get my boys to wear their mickey pirate ears...

She has her own bathroom which I painted a soft green. It matches the border of the butterfly mat so I'm outfitting her towels and bath mat in this cute pottery barn kids butterfly pattern along with their striped pink towels. So cute. Well, that's all for now.

Is our homestudy on it's way?

I spoke with our case manager from our placing agency on Friday. As soon as he receives our roughdraft of our homestudy we can make an appointment with them for our interview and collection of our dossier documents. Yeah!! I'm so excited to be completing the first leg (homestudy) and moving onto the dossier leg of the paper trail. I called the social worker that is incharge of finalizing all the homestudies with our homestudy agency to see if she would be able to fax or email that homestudy over on Friday or Monday but I couldn't get a hold of her. It was Friday after lunch so probably won't hear back till Monday. Hopefully, she got my message and went ahead and sent it since our social worker had already emailed it to her last Monday. I should have called on Wed, but I hate to be so pushy. Keep your fingers crossed she went ahead and sent it over.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

FBI Fingerprints Done

Friday we got a letter in the mail from the USCIS office saying they have received our I-600A application and it's been logged in on Aug 27th. The letter also included the forms we needed to get our fingerprints done. The office is only open on Sats and we had 2 weeks to get the fingerprints done...or 2 Saturdays. If we couldn't come in during the next 2 weeks then we could come in on a Wed after our 2 week period was over. So we decided we had better go today. We packed up the kids and planned on a few hours of waiting but was pleasantly surprised at how effecient the office was running and we were out of there in under a half hour. Yeah...fingerprints are done. We have to fax back our paperwork to our local USCIS office so they know we have been fingerprinted and it could still take upto 120 days to hear back if we are approved.

We received a rough draft of our homestudy on Friday. It looks great...just a few minor corrections to make over the weekend and then our agency will forward it to our placing agency to make sure it's okay for our dossier. Hopefully, next week we will be finished with the homestudy and it can be sent in to the USCIS office and to our placing agency.

We are still collecting documents for our dossier. So far we still need a letter from hubby's employer, a letter from our mortgage company and our psych test results. We also need to get a letter from hubby medical insurance co stating that our daughter is covered once she is placed with us.

We are getting closer. The steps or paperwork is getting smaller and smaller.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Passports are Here!!

Yeah!! My passport has finally arrived!! I was wondering when it would come. Hubby's arrived earlier this week and our old passports came back yesterday so I was very excited today to see my passport!! Yeah!! I also got in the mail my postcard saying the local USCIS has received my I-600A application.
I haven't done any paperwork this week and I need to get back on it. Both boys start preschool next week and we have been to back-to-back orientations and meetings about our carpool arrangements and new classes that the week has flown by and I haven't gotten to work on anything adoption oriented. I'm afraid my September will fly by like that too as school is very involved. Hopefully, I will be able to make the time. I have a few more documents to collect, get a hold of our roughdraft of our homestudy and make my appt for the psych test and then we can meet with our placing agency. I'm hoping that if all goes well, we can meet with them sometime in October and hopefully submit our dossier then too. We will see how it goes!! But for today..yeah our passports are here!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I did it!!!

I certified mailed my I-600A application in on Friday!! We will see. I did not send in with it proof of our medical insurance or that extra form the I-134. If those are truly required by our local USCIS office I hope I get a phone call and they don't just reject my application and mail the whole thing back. I went over their website too and there was no mention of either of those 2 extra pieces so...fingers crossed...hope all goes well. I probably should have called like Debbie recommended but I didn't. Oh well...fingers crossed!!

I'm also sending in my last packet of forms to my homestudy agency today...all of our medical forms and labs and a packet of forms our placing agency has requested from our homestudy agency. I got an email from our SW that our report is written rough draft wise and that as soon as she receives the rest of our docs (mailed today) she can send us our homestudy to check over. Yeah!!

I just got an email from the passport agency that our passports are finished and have been mailed back to us and at the latest we should get them at the end of September. I can't believe it!! We had originally heard they were running late and wouldn't get here until the first week of November. I'm so excited!! Now if we can just get our I-600A application and fingerprints done and approved we can set up our appointment to meet with our placing agency and get our dossier packet done. I'm excited and maybe we can have our appt as early as sometime in Oct instead of Dec like I originally thought. Whoohoo!! Things are really moving!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dr. Appt today and the I-600A update

I have my doctor appt today to get my forms filled out and my TB test taken. Luckily we received our packet of forms for our dossier in time to be able to bring their medical forms with us so we didn't have to make 2 trips to the doctor. My husband and both boys already have their forms completed and hubby has his TB test already read and signed off so it's just me holding up our final packet of info to send off to our Homestudy agency. We had our labs done a few weeks back so we have those already to send in too. I'm hoping on Monday I can put the packet in the mail just as soon as I go back to the doctor and have my TB test read. I'm kicking myself for not getting that TB done earlier this week so I could have been done today and had it in the mail...bummer!!

I'm also ready today to certify mail my I-600A application off to the local USCIS office. I called my homestudy agency just to double check that I had everything ready to mail off in that I-600A application yesterday and they said the USCIS also requires proof of insurance that your adopted daughter will be covered when she is adopted and also another govt form I-134 Affidavidate of Support not an adoption form that basically says we can financially provide for her. She said that only our local USCIS office is requiring that extra form...just figures!!! Has anyone else had to do this? I looked all over the immigration website and can't find anything that mentions either of these two requirements. She said I could go ahead and send it in just know to begin getting those forms so when they call for them I'm ready. Ugh...the form collecting just never ends..more trips to various offices more forms to gather.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The interviews

We have met with our social worker twice now. She is so friendly and bubbly that she has made us feel very comfortable sharing ourselves. So far it has been a relatively painless process. I'm not sure what kind of questions I was expecting...being interviewed about yourself sounded intimidating but it hasn't been anything too deep or hard to answer. Tomorrow we have our last meeting with our social worker..our home visit. Time to tidy up this evening.

I have already received some forms from our placing agency for our dossier so I have started collecting those documents and making appointments again. So far all the forms have been straightforward and not that different from the ones we used in the homestudy. I'm hoping to send off our I-600A form this week..I have all the documents ready and hopefully the homestudy will follow it next week. I just need to goto the bank and get a money order. We also have our doctor's appointments this week and we already went and got our labs done a few weeks go and I've received my lab results already...I've passed...yeah! Hopefully hubby has too. It was my first cholesterol panel I've had I was a bit curious what it would say but it was normal...thank goodness. We are moving and groving along. Hubby goes back to the classroom this week so this was our last big push to get all the inperson interviews done. We just have one big last test...the MMPI psychological evaluation. Basically it's personality inventory given to see if you can cope with life's normal stresses. Never had one of those done either...should be very interesting. I'm still trying to find a psychologist close to home that performs this...sometimes companies require new employees to have this done so it shouldn't be too hard to find. I think the only 2 things holding us up from going forward on our dossier is getting our passports back and hearing back from immigration on the status of our I600A.

Things are looking good. I spent all last night looking at the russian photolisting put out by MOE at all the babies born in 2007 in the regions our placing agency works wondering if one of the children already born this year could be our future daughter. It was quite exciting and feels really real...I'm feeling closer to her than I have ever felt. My oldest has been talking about Emily a lot. How she will be smaller than him and Bubba. He can't wait to play with her and take care of her. Bubba says she can sit by him at the table. BW has talked about how we will go on an airplane to bring her home and that they will stay with their grandparents. Wow...the anticipation is making my heart thump so loudly. I'm just so thrilled!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Homestudy Interviews Scheduled

We have scheduled our homestudy interviews. This is my hubby's last month of being off and our social worker was so generous with her schedule to allow us to squeeze our 4 interviews into what was left of this month. I'm so amazed and so appreciative of her working with us so quickly and on such a short time schedule. It would have been so hard for my hubby to try and take early days off in September when he has had the past 2 months off already. The 4 interviews we have scheduled include, a couple's interview, 2 individual interviews and a home visit with the family. Our social worker believes our homestudy should be completed and in our hands the first week of September. At this point the only thing holding us up is still completing our medical exams. As soon as we get back from vacation I will tackle the I-600A and send that in. I also need to see if the fee has gone up which I believe it did on July 30th. It's very exciting but interesting. It feels like you hurry, hurry, hurry up to complete and send in all of this paperwork, and then you wait, wait and wait and then it's your turn again to quickly try and gather more papers and send in something else just so you can wait in another line. I'm glad to participate though, that's for sure because I know that it means someday it will be our turn to travel and meet our baby girl and I just can't wait for that day!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Passports renewed

Well, we took the kids and we all went and got our passport photos taken. What a funny ordeal. Hubby and I took our photos first so the kids could see how quick and easy it was and then it was to be their turn. Boy Wonder still wasn't sure and so I stood next to him but right out of view of the camera...he wouldn't smile and so his mugshot looks a lot like the children's pictures you see on the russian orphanage photolisting. Bubba would not even go near the backdrop to take a photo. The photographer suggested hubby put him on his shoulders and then duck down so his head wasn't in the shot...what comedy...poor hubby on the ground trying to avoid getting any bodyparts into Bubba's passport photo and trying to straighten Bubba up at the same time as he just wanted to lay his head down on top of daddy's head. Bubba's photo took more than all of ours combined and both kids photos look like the saddest and unhappiest children you had ever seen. Oh well...they only have their passports for 5 years.

Then off to the passport office to submit our paperwork. If your child is under 16 years of age both parents have to be present to sign off on getting the child's passport. I guess they want to be certain that one parent is not abducting the child from the country. There were only 5 people in the waiting room when we got there yet oddly enough the number I pulled put us at 15 people ahead of us...hmmmm. There were many school desks to sit at so the boys had a blast playing students, drawing pictures and eventually cleaning every desk with a pen wrapped up with a huge fake sunflower on the end of it they were using as a duster. They definately made the wait time go by so much's amazing how imaginative little kids can be.

Yeah..check off passport renewals...if all goes well our passports should be back to us sometime in November.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Small Steps

We have been so busy these past few weeks...but finally I was able to send off another packet of papers to our homestudy agency...our financial statements, w-2 and past years tax return, birth certificates x4, marriage license and our employment verifications letters. Our homestudy agency also contacted us and we have been assigned a social worker. Hopefully, we will hear from her later this week. Also, we chose a placing agency and sent off our application to them along with our family/home photos. Yeah!!! We are making small steps..but every step is one step closer to meeting our baby girl. Now, we have to work on getting passports, a psych test, medical evaluations, conduct our homestudy and send off our I-6ooA application.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Our first application has been handed over!!

We drove to SF this evening and hand delivered our application and some initial forms to the adoption agency that is going to do our homestudy. Whohoo!! We also got to meet in person the sw that I have been bugging this past month with all my questions. While there we attended a required education class and received our binder full of info. It was fun to meet other preadoptive parents's amazing how many countries there seems every couple had a different country they were adopting one else is adopting from eastern europe or Russia like us. We did meet a very nice couple adopting from China who gave us some great tips for when our sw visits our house...we hope everything moves quickly for them.

We also heard back from those that are going to write a recommendation on our behalf..and they all said yes, they would do it. Yeah!! Thank you, thank you guys!! We so appreciate your help. Tomorrow we have our fingerprinting appts, hubby has already picked up his criminal clearance report and I have ordered all of our birth and marriage certificates. Next up.. to make a doctor's appt for all so we can get that paperwork cleared and to renew our passports as they expire next summer...bummer!!

Every step is one step closer...I'm just beaming!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

So why adoption?

I've been asked this before. Why adopt when we have two biological children? I have always been drawn to children and spent a great portion of my life volunteering in some capacity with children and eventually children in the dependency court. Before we started our own family I was a CASA (court appointed special advocate) and had worked with my advocate siblings for 3 years. The youngest was just 6 months old when I first met her and during those 3 years the children were eventually placed in a foster adopt family. It was my first experience with adoption and witnessing this couple who wanted and loved these children so much...would do anything to be able to adopt them even though they had no biological was an incrediable experience and that left an unforgetable imprint on my heart.

I always imagined I would have 3 children and after having two boys I knew I would like to have a daughter so very much. The idea of adopting our daughter seemed and felt right. I never felt the need for her to be biologically mine. In my heart I always felt she would come to us through adoption and even though it is still scary to me it is also so exciting and I can't wait for the adventure of it all to begin and to finally hold her and meet her. I have been given so many gifts so many blessings in my life. The idea that I could give a child the blessing of a family, to be loved, to have a good felt so good to me to be able to share in my blessings, my life with a child.

Adoption was something that took hubby a little longer to think over. He never questioned that he couldn't love and parent a child that wasn't biologically tied to him. He was more worried about how our adopted child would feel being the only adopted child in our family and when she was old enough to comprehend the emotions behind being adopted would she feel sad, would she feel abandoned by her birth parents and could we love her enough, could she feel our love enough to not have that knowledge break her spirit. It made me cry to even imagine such a situation. And I know in my heart it will all be okay...that no matter what our daughter's story holds that she will know that she is loved by both her families. And so I believe it is with faith and trust that we take this leap and know that this journey will change us all.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

First Steps

We signed up for our preadopting class. Yeah!! It's just a few days after our anniversary...7 years this!! What an exciting way to afternoon in the city (San Francisco) talking about international adoption. This week I hope to finish the packet of questions (hubby needs to sit down and work on his as well) and then we can submit our application to our local adoption agency.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Moving Forward

I'm so very excited...we have begun slowly inching our way forward on the adoption road. After having talked with a few clients of each agency I made the calls and started to talk with both agencies and so far both are sounding very positive. I'm leaning a little closer towards one but before we make a committment to either we are going to get started on our homestudy and continue talking with both agencies and hopefully that will give us more insight and help us make a final decision.

In order to begin with the homestudy we will need to find a local adoption agency that can work with us, meet with us in person and complete that part of the adoption process. Yesterday I talked with 2 different local agencies recommended by one of the international adoption agencies. One of the agencies is so close to us and was having a welcome/introduction meeting at their office last night so I went to check it out. After the presentation, I was able to talk with a few of the staff members about our adoption and our homestudy and really felt they were sincere, knowledgeable, committed and easy to talk with so it looks like we may have chosen our local agency to complete our homestudy. In order to begin, we just need to send in our application and both hubby and I will have to attend an all day preadoption class in July before we can be signed to our social worker. So far so good...sounds easy enough.

In the meantime, I have a partial list of papers that I will need to track down...marriage certificate, birth certificates for all, renew passports, get the kids their passports (just in case), bank statements, W-2's, recent tax return, fingerprints and recent family photos and photos of our home. Apparently the homestudy is pretty intrusive and both governments want to make sure we are good parents that can provide for a child and have no history of crime or violence towards others especially kids. Makes absolute sense I agree. But when I think of how easy it was for us to have our boys...the cost, the time, the wait, the was nothing like the vigors of adoption. I constantly hear.. "it is not for the faint of heart." And the fact that it was only us that made the decision to start and add to our family and now that decision is out of our hands and being made by 2 governments, 2 countries and all the people in's just crazy.

So keep your fingers crossed...we hope this first part...the beginings to the homestudy...goes relatively easy and painfree.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


We have finally moved!! It has been 18 months of remodeling and making decisions to complete our dream home and we are finally finished and moved in. In our new home we have a room for each of our children..including our soon to be daughter. Her room is pink and right next to our room. The first day of moving our oldest son walked into our daughter's room and said, "where is my sister? She is not here?" He imagined that when we finally moved in she would be there waiting for us.

Now that we have moved and summer is here we can begin to focus on our search for our daughter. I believe we have narrowed it down to 2 agencies that we would like to work with and the country we hope to bring our daughter home from...Russia. If all goes well we will begin the paper chase at the end of the summer and maybe by next summer we will be bringing our Emily home.

Stay tuned and keep us in your thoughts as we take this most amazing new journey to find our daughter and complete our family.
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