Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baby Steps

We continue to take "baby steps" in our journey - but every step is important!  Last week we had all of our physicals and bloodwork completed (thanks to a school holiday and snow days).  It was a big relief to have them out of the way - especially the paperwork.  Our agency told us that the most mistakes (in regard to paperwork) are made on the medical forms.  These had to be notarized, completed legibly (which was a challenge - ha ha), answers had to be in complete sentences and separate forms had to be completed for every medication, condition or procedure we had ever had.  Thankfully, we have no major health issues, but my asthma, allergies and c-section with Alexis caused me to have several forms that had to be completed.  After just two return visits to the doctor's office, we got everything signed and completed correctly.  We also had our second visit with our social worker, and she completed our personal interviews.  Jason and I were interviewed separately for around an hour each, and then brought back together for additional questioning.  We had to submit autobiographies prior to the meeting, so we were quizzed over everything imaginable, including our childhoods, career choices, reasons for adopting, relationship issues, discipline styles, families, religious views, etc.  I as a little nervous, but our social worker told us that we are very in-sync, as a couple, and that she was confident that our child would a "lucky little girl."  We are now just waiting on a few documents to arrive in the mail (FBI background check and Kentucky Courts background check).  Once those arrive, we will be ready for our social worker to complete the homestudy!  Very exciting! 

During another one of our plentiful snow days, we applied for our passports.  We've both had a passport card for travel to the Bahamas, but never an actual passport book.  With the passports "ordered," we have now completed all of our parent education, background checks, letters of recommendation and other various forms that have to be completed.  Once the homestudy is written and notarized, we will be able to start authenticating our documents for the dossier (birth certificates, letters of employment, etc.).  We are making such good progress!  Now begins the first of many "waiting periods."  Did I mention I extremely dislike waiting???  Hopefully I will learn to be a more patient person through this process!

I also wanted to share our baby girl's name in this post.  We have chosen a first name and then we will determine the middle name once we see her Chinese name.  Her name is............Annabelle!  I have always loved the name Anne, and my mother's name is SuzANNE.  We also wanted to use an "A" name, and we love Annabelle!  The name means "one who is easy to love" or "lovable."  How appropriate and wonderful is that?   Please say a little prayer for Annabelle, as we hope that, if she is already in this world, she is safe, loved and happy!  If she is not, we hope that she will enter the world safely and be well-cared for until we can meet her.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Love Bug!

Today we had our two-hour physicals at the doctor's office and our phone orientation about compiling all the documents needed for our dossier. This is a collection of documents that must be sent to China. These include birth certificates, our marriage license, employment verification letters, FBI background checks, physicals, etc. Many of the forms have to be notarized, and then all of them have to be "authenticated" through Trey Grayson's office (Secretary of State) in Frankfort. It will take us a while to get all the forms collected, received, notarized and verified at the county level. Our agency thinks/hopes that our dossier documents will be ready for authentication sometime around our spring break (beginning of April) so that they can be sent to Washington D.C. for verification and we can HOPEFULLY submit the dossier to China on Friday, April 22nd (this is a big deal because I turn 30 on the 20th and we cannot submit the dossier until I hit the lovely milestone). Then, the biggest hurdle for our process will be complete!

Tomorrow we meet with our social worker for visit #2. This session will include individual interviews related to our childhoods, family life, parenting styles, thoughts on adoption, reasons for wanting to adopt, ability to deal/cope with adoption needs, etc. After this we will only have one more meeting with the social worker and our homestudy will be complete. We are getting close with the homestudy...just waiting for a few more forms and references to be submitted. The homestudy must be complete before we can finish preparing the dossier or submit our I-800 form (request for international adoption) to the US government.

Sorry for the frequent posts - I decided to start this blog to keep family/friends updated, but my primary purpose in creating it was to have it printed into a keepsake book for our daughter when she arrives so that she will always know about our journey to her - including all the celebrations and hurdles - no matter how small or significant! I know if I don't write things down as they happen, I will forget!!

I also wanted to share a picture of Alexis with her new "love bug." I found this at Hallmark today and thought it would be a positive reinforcement tool for her behavior. I have also been thinking a lot about making sure Alexis feels secure and loved as we go through this process, as it has already taken up a lot of time and emotional energy from us, and I want to make sure she still feels special. The bug has a pouch on the back that we can use to tuck little treats or rewards from time to time. Tonight the bug "watched" her eat supper and it slowly "moved" closer and closer, depending on the bites she took and how well she ate. Eventually, he reached her plate and she enjoyed the Tootsie Roll inside! It worked amazingly well - it was the best she has eaten in days! I also think it's neat that he is a ladybug - ladybugs are the unofficial symbol of "luck" in Chinese adoptions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

China's Lost Girls

Snow Days and Checklists

With our unexpected snow days, we were able to accomplish a lot for our homestudy. The amount of paperwork for this process is a bit overwhelming, but I organized everything and made several checklists to help keep us on track! We have been working hard to send off background checks, schedule appointments for physicals, request records and birth certificates, ask for letters of recommendation, etc. I have nearly everything sent off, requested and written for this phase of the homestudy, so now we get to enjoy WAITING for everything to come in and be processed! We passed our home inspection with the social worker (Alexis didn't say anything inappropriate or talk about us being mean parents - yay!) and we have a second meeting with her next week for individual interviews. After that, we will have one final meeting with her and then we will continue to wait for all of our homestudy documents to arrive back in our hands. We hope to have the homestudy completed by the middle of February, but we are at the mercy of government agencies fulfilling our records requests. We are also busily working on our parent education courses online, and fulfilling the reading requirements that our agency has established. The courses have been, surprisingly, very informative and thought-provoking. What a challenge it will be to parent and provide a home for this little girl - but how rewarding and what a blessing it will be! We know that much of adoption is a waiting game, but we are quickly realizing that we can use this time to prepare ourselves, Alexis and those around us for the rewards and challenges ahead.

I also have a video from a documentary Lisa Ling produced that I want to share as well - it gives me inspiration and motivation to see families at the completion of this journey and the joy they are experiencing. I am not very blog-savvy, so I don't know how to add it to this post! I will try to post it separately.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fingerprints, Forms and Fees...Oh my!

Today we were assigned our official case social worker, which is exciting and a little scary! While we certainly have nothing to hide or fear from a social worker's homestudy, it is still a bit intrusive and stressful! We also were sent information to complete our FBI background checks/fingerprints, a huge list of forms and documents to start collecting and our itemized fee schedule. Completing these steps makes the adoption feel more "real" and brings us one step closer to meeting our new little girl! I know, other than the waiting, this portion of the process can be the most daunting. I hope that it will not be too frustrating or stressful, but we are prepared that it may be at times! Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised!

We really appreciate the support and encouragement we have received from friends and family so far! We realize that adoption is not something that everyone would choose, nor is it the right "fit" for every family. The topic is accompanied by many questions and concerns - we have many ourselves! However, we ultimately feel that this is the right decision for us and our family, and we look forward to journeying through the whole process - questions, concerns and challenges included! It means a lot to hear all of the congratulatory comments, smiles, hugs, prayers and well-wishes! We know this little girl will arrive in our home already well-loved by many!