Sunday, June 26, 2011

Adoption Application Madness

Did anyone miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? Probably not because I have been a terrible blogger…but I was gone all last week at Camp APAC which is a camp for 144 adopted children ages 9-18 in Alabama. As soon as I have pictures available I will share more about the week! It’s fun to think that in…about 9 years our kids will be able to go! :)

I just thought I would share exactly what goes into an international adoption application. It may bore you or you may be interested, so either way here goes…

Final Application Documents:

  • 3 Page application
  • 9 Various forms to sign and get notarized
  • 6 References with contact information (they each had to write a letter and get it notarized)
  • 2 page “Statement of Motivation” discussing the process that we have been through to make the decision to adopt
  • 1 page “Our/My Child” describing the child that we wish to adopt
  • 2 Autobiographies (one for Barry and one for me) that both ended up being EIGHT pages long. The agency included a 2 page list of questions that we needed to answer…things such as “How are you like and unlike members of your family?”, “Your best childhood  memory.”, “What kinds of things did your parents argue about?”, “How did your parents handle sex education, discipline, money?”, “When did you begin to date?”, “What changes did you and your spouse experience after the honeymoon?”, “What people or events have had the most influence in your life?”, “Describe your employment history, your current job and what you enjoy about your work.” and on and on and on it goes.
  • Certified copies of birth certificates (not just copies)
  • Certified copy of our marriage certificate
  • Financial statement (2 page worksheet detailing EXACTLY where our money goes, monthly expenses, investments, etc…it took Barry and I THREE hours to fill out!!)
  • Certified copy of our property deed, notarized
  • Employment verification letters from both of our employers, notarized
  • Bank letter verifying we have an account, the amount deposited in the past year, the present balance, etc, also notarized
  • Medical Exam Reports for each of us, notarized
  • Proof of Health Insurance which included copies of our health insurance cards AND a copy from our health insurance handbook verifying that an adopted child will be eligible for coverage at the time of adoption
  • Police Clearance form that I had to take to the police department to get them to run a local check on us, notarized
  • Passport photos (not really sure why we needed these because we already have our passports, but they requested pictures with our application)

We also had to fill out Child Abuse and Neglect clearance forms. These are to verify that you have never had a CA/N report filed on you. The clearances are taking around 12 weeks to come back.

We each also had to get fingerprinted which should be a simple process, but it’s not. You have to register online, print various forms, sign various forms, make a million calls to figure out where you can get fingerprinted the quickest, make an appointment, wait a long time, bring your forms to the County jail, get the dude to sign a bunch of forms that he doesn’t understand why he has to sign, fill out fingerprint cards, get ink fingerprinted, tell the dude that you think they are too light and not clear and will be sent back, get told that no they are fine, mail in said fingerprint cards, wait several weeks, then find out that they were indeed not readable, repeat process this time at a different jail, continue to wait to hear back if the second set are readable, all while knowing that you are not a criminal and that this is holding up the adoption process.

Anywho, that may or may not have been my fingerprinting experience.

In addition to all of those documents that the agency needs to satisfy US requirements, you also have to compile documents that satisfy Russian requirements. These documents are called the Dossier and these are the documents that we had to submit with it…

Dossier documents:

  • 2 Certified copies of our marriage certificate
  • Financial statement (different than the one we filled out for the application but ALL numbers MUST match up on the forms and the employment verification letter), notarized
  • 2 Copies of each of our passports, notarized
  • Employment Verification letters in a special format, notarized
  • Certified copy of deed, notarized
  • Proof of real estate ownership preferably from County clerk (after several hours calling all around Dothan we had to settle for a letter from our mortgage bank), notarized
  • Photos of our family and home, specific photos were requested along with forms that had to be, surprise, notarized.

And the last thing we needed right now was to watch 10 hours of online training videos about international adoption. They were actually really interesting…I’ll share more about those later.

So much of this seems simple and straightforward, but it takes FORVER to compile it all! It is difficult in many cases to find the right people that can help you. And then once you request the information that you need it takes forever in some cases to get the correct documents from them. For example it took almost 3 weeks to get Barry’s employment verification letter and it took a month to get Barry in to see his doctor because that was the quickest they could get him in, even with me calling daily to ask if there were any cancellations. OR in the case of the Proof of real estate letter, I literally talked to at least 10-15 people who all kept sending me to different departments and everyone said that they couldn’t help me.

We have spent HOURS on the phone, HOURS driving around town picking up documents and getting things notarized, HOURS completing the documents…MADNESS I tell you! :)

But it is ALL WORTH IT!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Look How Fun!

Look what I got in the mail from my friend Kat!!

(Ignore the date stamp that I can’t seem to figure out how to remove from my camera and am too lazy to go to my filing cabinet to pull out the owners manual to resolve.)

IMG_0199 Know what this says? It says “Mother” in Russian! How cool is that?!?!

IMG_0193And a sweet children’s book about adoption!

SO fun!! Thanks Kat!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful for Angels

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. ‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.’” (Psalm 91:11-14, NIV)

My Girlfriends in God devotional has been talking about angels the past couple of days. Angels are real…

  • Thirty-four of the Bible’s sixty-six books talk about angels in detail.
  • Every New Testament writer confirms the existence of angels.
  • The word “angel” or “angels” occurs more than 300 times in Scripture.

And they serve a huge purpose in our lives even today! Angels help us, protect us, deliver us…It got me thinking about my own experiences with angels and I thought I would share one…

A few weeks ago I was coming back from Atlanta from a visit with my friend Courtney and her sweet baby Harper Kate. I was driving on the interstate (70mph) in the far left traffic lane which was ending so I merged to the right. As I merged over I saw that the car behind me was speeding up to pass in front of me. When he passed in front of me the merging dotted line had already ended so he was cutting it really close. Low and behold a truck TOWING a BOAT decided to try and pass in front of me too. (I have NO clue why he is doing this…did he not see me?? I drive an SUV so I am not small…but there is no way that he saw me and did was he was about to do. Did he not see that his lane was ending?? Ok…had ALREADY ended??)

I see it happening but it all happens so fast that I am not thinking logically. Logic would tell you that in a moment like that you would react by swerving out of the way but I didn’t. I did move over so that I am straddling the line between the 2 remaining lanes of traffic. I see cars passing on the right side of me (which I would have hit if I had swerved into the other lane) as the truck and boat on my left is also passing. In slow motion I see these vehicles on both sides of me passing and watch the truck/boat SOMEHOW not hit my vehicle. I was completely sandwiched between two vehicles and have NO IDEA how I was not hit. No idea besides there were angels surrounding my car. There is no way on this earth that I was not completely smashed between those two vehicles. Absolutely no way.

All I could do as soon as the situation was over is thank the Lord that he saved me from something that more that likely would have ended my life. Wow. It gives me chills just writing about it now. Thank you Lord!

The devotional challenges each of us to examine our lives for the presence of angels. The writer says, “As I look back over the past week, I wonder if I missed the presence and work of angels. Maybe when, at the last minute, the car swerved to avoid hitting me … or I came across the precious wedding ring I lost weeks ago … or an unexpected phone call of encouragement from a friend I haven’t heard from in years. Some people might say it was just a coincidence or an accident. I don’t think so.”

What about you? What kind of angel encounter's have you had? Please share!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Russian Orphan Statistics

I found these statistics the other day that will just absolutely break your heart. These kind of statistics can be found worldwide, it’s not just a Russia problem…

  • At around age 16 or 17, orphans are forced to leave the orphanage system and enter the world with limited education and minimal support. Within the first five years, almost 90% of these orphans end up in crime, prostitution, drug and alcohol addiction, or commit suicide.
  • In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18, 60% of the girls are lured into prostitution, 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. 
  • Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years.

As one of my friends commented the other day, hearing these startling statistics should not only make us sad, but as Christians, it should lead us to act! There are so many ways to care for the orphans, as well as ALL of those who are hurting or in need. God might lead you to adopt a child yourself, you can support adoptive families, you can sponsor a child through an organization like Holt International, He might call you to go on a missions trip to serve at an orphanage, you can DEFINITELY pray for orphans and for adoptive families…I don’t know what He wants YOU to do, but you better believe He wants us doing something! WE are His hands and feet! “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”Matthew 25:40

I strongly encourage every single one of you to read the book, “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches” by Russell Moore. Be forewarned…your life will never be the same.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Help Us Bring Our Child Home!

Shirt orders are on hold for the time being while Show Hope revamps their program. Check back later if you are interested in purchasing a shirt! Thanks!!

Have you ever heard of Show Hope? Show Hope is an organization started by Steven Curtis Chapman and his family to care for orphans. They are involved in a variety of different missions to provide hope for orphans such as providing grants to families who are adopting, helping adoptive families fundraise, providing homes for special needs orphans via an orphanage called “Maria’s Big House of Hope”, etc. Here is a news clip about Show Hope.

Barry and I are selling Show Hope shirts to help offset some of our adoption costs. We know that this adoption journey will be filled with both joys and hardships, and one of the first barriers is the cost to adopt. Instead of this seeming like a barrier though, we want to look at it as an opportunity for God to show His faithfulness and for others to join us in the miracle of adoption!

We are asking for YOUR help! We would love for you to help us show hope by purchasing a shirt…or two…or twenty. :) All of the money raised (minus the cost of the shirts) will help us bring our precious child home. Here are pictures of the shirts that we have for sale!

0 “Tree Tee” Black

Raise Awareness for orphans in comfort and in style! Shirt says “Show Hope: A Movement to Care for Orphans”

Available in (S, M, L, XL, 2x) Unisex

4 “Tree Tee” White

This long sleeve women’s shirt is great for every season!Shirt says “Show Hope: A Movement to Care for Orphans”

Available in (S, M, L, XL, 2x) Women

8“I Heart SH” Violet

This beautiful shirt comes in women, baby and toddler sizes!

Available in Women (S, M, L, XL) and Child (6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2T, 3T, 4T)

(Shirt fits snug...order 1-2 sizes bigger than you normally wear)

7 “I Dig SH” Army Green

This fun shirt comes in women and youth sizes!

Available in Women (S, M, L, XL, 2X) and Youth (YXS, YS, YM, YL, YXL)

5“I Show Hope” Red 3“I Show Hope” Chocolate1“I Show Hope” Heather Blue6“I Show Hope” Smoke2This is the back of the “I Show Hope” Shirts. It reads: “Show Hope [sho’h] [hoh’p] v.1. Evidence your faith by loving orphans. 2. Respond to James 1:27. 3. Join the movement to care for orphans.”

“I Show Hope” Shirts Available in (S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X) Unisex

I love these shirts not just because they are helping us fundraise, but I think it’s so neat that friends and family get to share in the miracle of adoption with us in this way. AND when you wear your Show Hope t-shirt you can help raise an awareness of the number of orphans and the need for more adoptive families!

If you would like to help support us through the purchase of a Show Hope t-shirt you can do so via PayPal or by sending a check! I added a PayPal button to the side of my blog that makes it easy for you to contribute! Here is a link to an order form if you would rather write a check and mail it to us. If you have any questions let me know!

Also…if you buy a shirt I would LOVE for you to take a picture of yourself wearing the shirt and send it to me for our baby book!

We are so blessed to have each of you in our lives!

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mini Freak Out

THIS is our initial adoption application! (Edited so our identity can’t get stolen…ha!)Edited Initial Application

THIS is our final application and dossier ready to be taken to the UPS store to make copies and mail off to the agency! IMG_0190

And THIS is what caused my mini freak out.


Our beautiful adoption application and dossier that HOURS upon HOURS of blood (literally), sweat (literally) and tears (literally) brought about. It was a very very hard thing for me to hand this packet (82 pages + pictures by the way) over to the UPS lady. I seriously debated driving it to Fairhope, AL and placing it into my agency’s hands but then I convinced myself that that would be crazy because it is a 3 1/2 hour drive and I’m not crazy…right? So, I mailed it…overnight…tracking…all that good stuff.

And then…it got lost. LOST! According to UPS it was delivered at 10:42am this past Thursday but when I called the agency this morning the lady I talked to said that they never received it. Cue the panic. I called the main UPS number, I called the UPS store it was shipped to and no one could find it but they said they would look into it and get back to me. My heart is racing about a million times faster than it should be and I can’t get any work done. For anyone who has ever completed international adoption paperwork you will understand.

So as I am freaking out I finally decide that I have to get down on my knees and pray that this packet will be found. I literally barely get down on my knees when my phone rings. UPS lady….packet found!!! Wow! Isn’t God cool!?!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our Agency

Once we made the decision to pursue adoption, came the choice of how to do it. :) (Actually, I started working on that part as soon as Barry told me He was beginning to feel the Lord change his heart back in March…so as soon as the Lord made it evident that this was His will I was ready to go!) I began researching various agencies both in Alabama and bigger agencies such as Holt International, Gladney, Bethany, etc. I looked at what countries they worked with, agency requirements, ages of children that were available, time frames, cost, etc. I called and emailed many of the agencies and asked a ton of questions (sometimes I think I know too much since I work in the adoption field and know more than the average person…it’s a blessing and a curse.) I also talked to several of the families that I work with that have adopted internationally and asked them about their agencies.

A couple of the agencies were crossed off the list early on due to not working in our area or not allowing pregnancies at any point in the process. One of the agencies will put everything on hold, even once you have a referral for a child, if at any point you become pregnant. Well, I am not OK with that. I do not feel like the Lord has closed that door, and I don’t see us not trying to get pregnant at any point in the near future. We are on a fertility treatment hold, but are not using protection by any means. We were very uncomfortable with those type of restrictions so nixed those agencies.

When I called Children of the World, located in Fairhope, Alabama, I just knew they were our agency. Two of the families that I work with used this agency and loved them. They talk about how they are a very hand holding agency and had nothing negative to say about them. I felt the same way when I talked to them. I hung up the phone after that initial call and just knew they were our agency. My only initial hesitation was that they are only actively working with Russia and I hated to limit ourselves to only one country. However, the country thing had been STRESSING my out because I had no idea how to make such a decision!! Sooo…the Lord just made that decision easy on us and we didn’t have to worry about that choice!

Barry told me on a Saturday morning that He felt like we needed to do this and I had our initial application submitted Monday morning. :)