Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not much to say - mini vent

I am getting so frustrated. Why do I have to remind Frig over and over again of the things he needs to do to get this HS finished? Shouldn't it be as important to him as it is to me so that he would also be able to remember? Of course, part of the problem is I did not express to him how frustrated it was making me to have to remind him over and over again until yesterday. He probably had no idea. All right, I know the poor man had no idea.

He still hasn't gotten his TB test done, and he also needs the paperwork for both of his criminal things. He has called Austin again. He was on hold with them for an hour on Friday and by the time he was connected to the person that could most likely help him she was gone for the day. The lady from the HS agency actually called me on Thursday about this paperwork. Trying to find out if we were ever going to get it to her or not. If he doesn't get it together it might be another four years before we have a child. I don't want to be an old mom and it is looking more and more like I am going to be one after all.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

ARG USCIS Paperwork Returned

The USCIS returned our paperwork via certified mail because I sent a personal check for payment; however, I read back over the directions and it does not say that I have to send a certified check or money order. In fact, it says that personal checks will be turned into an electronic funds transfer. So the government spent $3.50 to return my paperwork when I had done nothing that conflicted with the directions. Also, because our mail lady always comes so late in the day it was too late to make it to the bank today. This is so frustrating. I hate dealing with the governement.

Monday, November 24, 2008

SW is Gone

Frig and I just met with our SW. She was very nice. Frig and her got along wonderfully and I am pretty sure her husband and Frig are long lost brothers. They talked about Star Trek and how her son loves Monty Python. In fact, she and I have a lot in common as well. One big thing we talked about was how the husbands have crazy mad knowledge of trivia while the wives to do not. Apparently her husband also can not understand how she doesn't know the director, year, complete plot and actors in ever movie ever made.

The home study was nothing to be worried about at all. She sat on our floor at the coffee table and made herself at home. None of the questions were difficult. She seemed to regard the walk through as a formality that had to be completed and when I asked if she wanted to see the garage she said she had to "although I have no idea why I have to." She mentioned more than once how our house was much larger than she had expected it to be.

While I was waiting for the social worker to arrive I completed some last minute house straightening and completed our USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) paperwork. It is called an I 600A and is an application for advanced processing of an orphan petition. The form is easy enough to fill out, but the check is going to be painful to write. Basically it is paying for our child's visa and approval for us to adopted internationally. The cost is $640 plus $80 per adult living in the house. Once the office gets the paperwork Chris and I will have to go and be finger printed. I am a little worried that the finger printing will have to happen during the work day. Apparently you don't get to pick when you go to the office, but our given an appointment date that you have to keep. I hope I can get some friends at school to cover for me if the timeing works out. Only time will tell on this aspect.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Homestudy Meeting Set

I spoke with the social worker (SW) today and we have set a date for the meeting. To be honest I am not sure if this will be the only meeting that we have to have or not. I was happy to hear that working for the home study (HS) agency is actually the SW second job so she conducts the meetings only at night and on the weekends which works great fro Chris and I.

Any way we will be meeting with the SW on Monday 11/24/2008. Yes, that is just a few days from today, and I am kind of freaking out about it.

Chris actually spoke with her for some time while I was at yoga and made a joke, big surprise, that she was ruining his weekend because he was going to have to clean the house. She asked if we had any dead rats lying around because apparently she had been watching wife swap and one of the houses had a major rat problem.

So Monday is the big day. The weekend will be very busy for sure. We will be cleaning and straightening up. I just finished putting our new computer desk together and that will help with some of organizing that needs to get done. I will of course update very soon after the meeting is over!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Making Good Headway

As of yesterday I have mailed off all of the documents that our local, as in state since they are actually in Austin, home study agency needs in order to have a social worker contact us. I guess that will happen any day now. This does not mean we have all of the necessary documents for the home study, but the bulk of them are in. We still need Chris's medical form (he has yet to find time to redo his TB test), the current pictures of us and our house, and the income verification letter for Chris. Considering the original list was 21 items long we have made amazing progress.

Our international agency received our legal agreement. They copied us on a letter to the local agency which verified that we were completing international adoption with them and formally requesting that the local agency complete our home study. The two agencies have worked together for over 20 years. We also received login information to access all of the international agencies Korean adoption information. We should receive a hard copy in the mail as well. I have heard the manual is the size of a phone book. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The paper work continues

During the past week Chris' passport arrived as did his birth certificate. The lady at the post office had been very kind to let us know that the certificate would not be returned in the same envelop as the passport so we would not get freaked out. However, we almost ended up recycling the certificate because I didn't pay to much attention to the brown envelop that it was mailed in. Thank goodness Chris found it.

Today Chris and I went to the credit union to get the adoption agreement notarized and pick my birth certificate up from the safe deposit box. I received a notice in the mail from the homestudy agency telling us that they had received the legal agreement and 2 of the references. Now Chris has agreed to call the other two people that were asked to fill out references and see if he can get those rolling. Attached to our copy of the legal agreement was a list of everything that the agency still needs. I didn't realize that it was standard to send the materials in as they were completed and not wait until all of it was done. I spent about and hour getting documents ready to mail and making notes to myself regarding additional copies that I need to make come Monday.

This week Chris will be going to get his second TB test. He forgot to get the first one checked on time so he has to do it over again. Next Sunday Chris and I will take care of the autobiographies, get photos of the house and ourselves and mail all of that out. The only thing we will then have left is the record of job stability from the district. Both of us have people on campus that are suppose to be doing that for us. Maybe we need to remind them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seoul Garden = Yum!

Chris, Peggy, and I had our first experience with Korean food last night. We went to a restaurant in Spring Branch, just a few miles from home, called Seoul Garden. We started with an appetizer of Kim-Chi pancake. They were very good. The sauce was a bit salty for our taste, but not inedible (we just had to drink a lot of water). Seoul Garden specializes in Korean BBQ so we decided to give it a try. We ordered a beef dish and an octopus dish. The meat is drought to the table marinated, but raw, and we got to cook it ourselves on the in table grill. It was a lot of fun. The BBQ came with all kinds of sides: miso soup, lettuce salad, 2 different types of seaweed, potatoes, sticky rice, and marinated cucumbers. The beef was wonderful and easy to cook. It had great flavor and was very tender. The octopus was very hard to get up off of the grill and while it had a flavorful marinade Chris and I decided we probably wouldn't order it again. We really enjoyed our first Korean food experience and can't wait to go back and try knew things.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Homestudy Headway

Thank God for Yom Kippur!! Frig and I have managed to make amazing headway with our home study paper work in the past 24+ hours. I had my doctors appointment yesterday after school. She drew blood, had me pee in a cup, and I have to go back for the TB test on Monday because they have to read it 48 to 72 house later. Initially, Frig was supposed to join me, but it didn'y work out. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

This morning we started with the Yale St post office at 9 am and the application for Chris' passport. It went very smoothly. The intake woman was very nice and there was only one person ahead of us. Next, hungry as we were, we stopped by Dry Creek for some sustenance. We went home, the plan was for Chris to fill out paper work while I tried to get him a doctor's appointment. The first number I called was able to see him at one. We worked on applications and forms for almost 2 hours. Chris took a short nap while I map copies of various documents. The doctor, once all said and done, took 3 hours. But I couldn't be happier. Chris felt very well taken care of and said that he would be very willing to continue seeing this doctor in the future.
Next, we went to find Rich at Under the Volcano and pass out the fourth reference form. While waiting for him to return from an errand we complete 2 more forms regarding our marriage and parenting.

I feel so good about the work that we completed today. The list has certainly shrunk and that is an amazing feeling. I hope that we will have all of the forms in the mail in less than 4 weeks from time of reciept!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Long, Long Meeting

By far the best part about today's meeting was the networking with other families that are adopting. There were 7 couples total. The 3 couples of Indian heritage all plan to adopt from India (although hearing about Korea made them think they may want to switch programs). The 2 oldest couples were adopting from China. There was one other couple that is adopting from Korea - a Caucasian woman married to a Korean man (and no he is not an adoptee). Richard even offered that Chris and I could use his family home in Korea should we travel before they sell it. I sure hope that works out!

We learned some great stuff on bonding and attachment. The one rule that is going to be very difficult to enforce, but very important, is keeping visits to a minimum for the first 6 weeks while we bond.

The doctor that came to spoke with us made all the couples feel good that our children would be relatively well taken cared for while still in their birth country. Now we need to contact his group to see if insurance covers their pre-placement services. They specialize in adoption pediatrics and will look a referral files prior to placment to give us an idea if we can handle the child's needs.

I left the meeting tired, but energized at the idea that Chris and I really are making the right choice!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Adoption Meeting & Home Study Packet

Chris and I will attend a 10 hour adoption meeting tomorrow. I am very excited and hope that it lives up my expectations. Yesterday I received an email from the coordinator asking all participants to arrive earlier than originally planned (8 am as opposed to 8:30). This is because they will have a doctor from MD Anderson who specializes in children that have been adopted internationally. Since Chris and I are willing to adopted a child with certain minor special needs this should be very helpful to us.

I am sure we will be very exhausted at the end of the day!

Speaking of being exhausted; I got tired just reading through the requirements for the home study (HS) packet that we received in the mail yesterday. One of the requirements is to get your doctor to fill out medical forms. I had no idea how extensive they would be. Thank goodness I went to a doctor 4 years ago for a bug bite and have sent Chris there are a few times when he was under the weather. That way when she asked if I was a patient I was able to say yes since they are no longer accepting newbies. The nurse was so kind when she found out why we needed to come in, and that we are teachers, she penciled us in for the end of the day next Wed. We have to get HIV, Hep, and TB tests. The results for that and all other questions have to be current within the past 6 months.

Chris and I will have to complete pretty length autobiographies speaking to specific questions, 5 of our friends will have to complete references, we have to do a floor plan of our house, and get a whole bunch of documents together. The bulleted list took up a whole page so you get the idea. Chris and I have off next Thursday so maybe we can work on some of this stuff then!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The process begins

Frig and I spent the last month or so deciding on what path we would take to completing our family and finalizing an adoption agency choice. Pretty early in the process it became apparent that domestic adoption was not going to be for us if we wanted to bring our child home when he/she was still under the age of two. I had made several phone calls a few years back and not been able to get on the waiting list for newborn domestic adoption at that time. When I experienced the same frustration this go around, including a very lengthy meeting where we were mostly ignored, we quickly decided we needed to rethink our efforts.

We had already received information from one Texas agency which was very comprehensive and included material on both domestic and international adoption. Three weeks ago on a 1 hour drive to wait tables at our friend's restaurant I read over the materials out loud as Frig drove. When I got to the page regarding China we both got very excited. It appeared to be the perfect fit; easy to get girls, significantly cheaper than domestic newborn adoption through the same company, and after 4 years of waiting the wait didn't seem too bad. Our initial excitement was deflated about 15 minutes later when I was reading through the requirements and determined that Frig kept us from qualifying after all. He was certainly upset and mentioned how he had wished he could have had the excitement of the whole evening.

The next day I began to research other counties. I immediately thought of Korea, because of two of the women on the JLIH board that have close associations with Korean adoption (thanks Elissa and Laura), and sent away for information from every agency I could find that would do a Korean adoption with a family in Texas. I also sent messages to both of my friends asking them all kinds of nosey questions.

Korea seemed to be a good fit and we had narrowed down to two agencies. However, one of the agencies also deals with China and it appeared that their qualifications might allow us to adopted from China. I sent an email to them and asked if we would qualify. When I received a reply in less than 2 hours I was pretty sure this was the agency for us. But now we had to choose the country, and fast, because the agency is closing it's Korean adoption on Oct 1st.

As of today we have chosen our agency, Holt, and our country. After many emails, web searches, private messages, posts on the Holt message board, and pro/con conversations we have chosen to go with Korea. The medical care our child will receive prior to coming home will be excellent, there is a high chance he/she will be cared for in foster care prior to placement, the age at placement is young enough to fill our needs, and the wait time will not be insurmountable (about 2 years). We have told Holt that we are open to some special needs and if they refer a child that seems like a good fit to our abilities we may bring our baby home even sooner.

We did experience a bit of a stressful moment on Saturday while filling out the application. Frig was reading the 8 page legal agreement and came to a clause pertaining to the mother becoming pregnant while the process was still being completed and up to 1 year after placement. We were both worried that the other one wouldn't want to continue because of the possible loss of money. We have decided that it would be ok to lose the money prior to referal (which is also prior to paying the largest sum of money) and that after the referal is completed we will be careful so as to insure completion of the placement. I was so relieved I cried.

As part of the application process I had to include our last 3 year tax returns (thank goodnes to turbotax), and pictures of our house and family (thank goodness for photobucket).

I recieved an email saying our application should be prossed in the next 2 days. Since I have been emailing with Holt I feel pretty good that we will be accepted for the Korea program.