Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Contact from International Agency

I just opened an email from the international agency located in Oregon. The title was quarterly contact so at least I will hear something every few months now. The gist of the email is that they are currently referring families who had a HS go to Korea in Nov and Dec. She did not specify year so I am hoping that means of 2008. I did email her for clarification as to the year. That might be silly of me, but since it took us so long to get the HS approved I am a little off on calculating the timeline.

She also said that some of the families getting referred had the HS sent even later, but those are families which would accept special needs. That is an excellent sign for us as we said there were certain special needs we would be willing to accept.

It was nice to hear from someone. I feel like I am in a weird waste land. Having to tell people over and over that I haven't heard anything, that we are just waiting, is getting old very fast.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I know it's been awhile

I haven't posted in some time, but there isn't really much to say. Frig and I did receive a letter from the international agency which got me super excited...until I opened it. It was sent to inform us that Korea is raising their prices and that of course that will raise our costs. Oh well what can we do.

So in the mean time we are just waiting. Frig and I are working on pulling up all of the carpet in the back of the house. The wood floor underneath has some condition issues, but I think the wood is healthier for a baby. We will take care of the condition once the baby is old enough as to not cause even more issues (so in like 20 years or so).

The waiting is pretty hard for me. I think it is compounded by the 5 year anniversary we just celebrated.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Approval from USCIS

Receiving notice from USCIS today was a cherry on the sundae that we will call a wonderful day in the Wister Ratcliff household.

Frig and I arrived at school with plenty of time to accomplish all of the copying and TV/DVD (for a China history DVD Frig was showing in the room where he is subbing this week) acquisition that was necessary. The new principal introduced herself to Frig and when he told her that he was interested in becoming a dedicated sub (that means he would be at Lanier every day and it is the highest pay rate an associate teacher can achieve) her reply was that "we are working on that". We are both awake enough this evening to have great lively converstation and had really GREAT second days of school.

So as I said the letter was the cherry topper, but please keep in mind that this cherry is way oversized. When we arribed at home Frig checked the mail, as is his usual practice, and let me "do the honors" of opening the large manilla envelope with the USCIS seal accompaning the return address. It reads "Your I-600A, Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petetion has been approved". The rest of the letter, while formal, is also quite frendly and ends with "It has been a pleasure to be a part of your new adventure."

Needless to say when Frig went to pick up the dry cleaning and get mac&cheese, to go with dinner, he also bought a six-pack of Corona so that we would celebrate.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Profile in the mail!!!

So today Frig took the profile book to the USPS to mail it off today. Since it is only traveling 90min away I wouldn't think it would take very long to get there. I think this is the step we were able to finish in the least amount of time. Maybe we should call Kathy in a few days to make sure the precious book arrived without harm. I am pretty proud of how it turned out and hope Kathy approves. I hope it does it's magic and one day I can show it to our child as the labor of love that brought him or her to us.

Also, my friend went to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) today because she has been trying to get pregnant for 1.5 yrs and doesn't want to wait as long as I did (at least someone has learned from my mistakes). Anyway, I like how her appointment went and am looking into their office hours. They mentioned clomid and didn't mention monitoring. The monitoring factor was one of the reason Frig and I decided not to pursue clomid with the first RE we went to and I couldn't get my OBGyn to give me a perscription. I thought it would be a bad idea to travel all around Houston randomly going to doctors trying to find a doctor that would write a script without wanting to monitor, but I know that there are doctors out there that fit that discription. So maybe we will have a third option on our plate one day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Other Avenue

The lady (Kathy) from the other agency and I finally connected today. She said that I just need to mail her a copy of the HS and a profile. Kathy will then keep our information on file and hope to get us a match.

So I immediately called Mom and Dad Ratcliff to get them to send pictures that would be good for the profile. Kathy told me it doesn't have to be anything super fancy. Just a letter stating why we want to adopt and some pics (nothing to wordy). So I guess I will start working on the pic part this weekend and Frig has committed to the letter.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

TX approval

First, I would like for all of you that are reading this that are parents to think to yourself "did I have pre-approval from my state to become a parent"? Now I know a few of you adopted and in that case you mostly likely said yes. Accept maybe in Frig's case. My in-laws were probably begged to take him off of the hands of whomever took care of him for the first 10 days. (OK I jest)

Well Frig was finally approved by the Lone Star state to become a father. I received a phone call some time yesterday afternoon. I bet the lady at the HS agency was glad to finally get to call me with good news. Normally when she calls it is to tell me all of the additional hoops they need Frig and I to jump through. Well mostly Frig has to do the jumping. I am the one standing on the side lines yelling "You can do it!"

The next step is USCIS approval. I have no idea how long we will be waiting for that to happen. The HS lady said something vague about getting something off to USCIS now that we were officially TX approved.

Some of you may be wondering what happened to the other avenue I mentioned in my last entry. Well as of right now nothing has happened. I guess you can say that I have lost momentum. It has been almost a year since we started this journey and we are still not on a waiting list. I do finally have what should be a good working number and I guess I will get up the energy one day this coming week to make a call.

On a "what you do as a kid can come back to bite you later" vein, since Frig and I have learned so much about that as of late, I had a funny conversation while in Ohio seeing my little sis. One of her friends, who is 21 so not really a kid but young enough to maybe not realize how little things can have big consequences later, was lamenting the minor current consequences of having stole a ace bandage. I told him he might not be able to adopt when he got older to which he gave me a very quizzical look and little sis kindly explained. On the bight side I was able to tell him that he also would never had too serve jury duty as Frig had just gotten out of jury duty himself for his minor theft. Now I have to have little sis tell her friend that the ace bandage incident will most likely not be an adoption stopper after all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A new avenue perhaps

My mother informed me today that one of her long time friends is very close with a woman that runs an adoption agency in a new by town. Apparently she had said something to me before but not as forcefully as today. So with the greater number of details she perked my interests.

So my mom called her friend, the mother of a child my mom once taught and whom I have known my whole life, to get the contact information. Mom's friend proceeded to call her friend and lay down some ground work. It was later in the day when this happened, and the lady was at the doctor with one of her children, so I will be calling on Monday.

I have no idea what the cost is, and that will of course be a big factor in making any determinations, but I can tell you that I will be anxiously awaiting Monday morning when I can call and get more information.

I will undoubtedly be doing an update once I find out more details. They always say it isn't what you know, but who you know so hopefully that will be very true for us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Texas paperwork complete?

I think that Frig and I have managed to get everything in the mail that we needed to complete the Texas paper work. I am getting less and less willing to say that I definitively know we are done. I feel like that might have jinxed us the first time.

We are waiting for some paper work to arrive from New Jersey, one of the location where Frig worked doing the Gun Fight Show, and then we will have to send that off with a letter as well. This is necessary to complete the paperwork with the US government. I hope that it will come in this week and that he will get it mailed while I am gone. We shall see if that is how it happens. :)

I have included a picture of Frig's gunfighting days. For those of you that won't be able to pick him out, he is bottom center. He is sitting because he is so much taller than the rest.

I do love being able to see how everyone checks in here. It confirms that this endeavor is not a waste of my time. Hopefully everything will work out and I'll be able to continue updating.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Phone call from agency yesterday

Well they called me yesterday about 15 minutes before I got out of a training. I checked the message and returned the call. I know one of the ladies got off from work an hour later and the other one was there for almost 3 more hours. I left messages for both and got no call back.

I am going to try and given them some credit. Maybe they went to a meeting. Maybe they had some major drama to take care of. Why would you leave such an alarming message and then not call back even if you had to do so after the time when you would normally have left the office already?

The message said something about new information and talking about options. Frig is going to try and get in touch with one of them today as I have the last day of my training.

The sad thing is the Frig had actually made some progress on the stuff he needs to do. Not as much progress as I would like. Not progress to the point where it is all done, but progress none the less.

If worst comes to worst I'll just could on the very lucky conception date I was given from good old reliable FaceBook-----Dec 13, 2013

Update 11 am

Frig actually called them first thing when he woke up, like he said he would, and I just got off the phone with him. It looks like this was just the kick in the pants that he needed to get his butt in gear. It was a good thing he was the one that called and got to talk to the woman at the HS agency rather than me having to relay the message.

Basically she was calling to say "What the heck is taking you so long and would you please get your act together? Do you really want to adopt or not? It has taken so long now I need to try and get you a 1 week extension and you need to FedEx everything to us tomorrow!"

So Frig is supposed to finish up his last thing and get in touch with the second reference letter person to tell him it needs to be written yesterday and we will come to you and pick it up tomorrow.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No new news

I didn't want anyone to think that I was neglecting updates for any reason other than there really aren't any updates to provide. It appears we have hit a very tall wall and I am not sure either of us have the strength to climb it. I didn't know boot camp should be a suggested prerequisite for the adoption process. So many hill and mountains to traverse and so little time/energy/motivation.

We have only 13 days left of class and maybe when that is over it will be easier on us to get some work done on the adoption. Or maybe I am just using school as an excuse.

Part of the deal is we need to 2 letters of recommendation from people that are not related and it can be hard to pester people about this. Especially when they already filled out the initial forms for us. Also, at least one of the shared that they were equally upset about the whole thing as Frig and so when she started to write it was coming out all angry and snippy. This has been Frig's big obstacle.

On a positive note my sister gave me a shirt that says "Adoption is the new black". I wore it to mother's day today. It is super comfy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Upsetting News

I received news today from our HS agency that the sate of Texas has done NOTHING with Frig's paperwork since it reached their office back in February. Apparently the women that is supposed to process it has been in training and the paperwork has been sitting on her desk this whole time.

Unfortunately, that is not the worst part. Even worse than the current paper work having been at a stand still these past two months is that we only found out because they want more paperwork from us: a record of work history from the past 10 years, two letters of recommendation standing up from Frig's moral character, and a more detailed explaination of the events from Frig (including what he learned and what he would do different in the same situation today).

This is so disheartening! I kind of just want to give up. I imagine all of the things I could do to my house with the money we have saved.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Announcments, clothing, and a very cool blog

What else is there for a waiting mother to do but spend time surfing the net. There will come a time when I am sleep deprived and will long for a few hours of time to myself.

Among my many web activities I am a member of a board for mostly women, but some dad's as well, that have adopted or are in the process of adopting from Korean. This board is hosted by my adoption agency, but not all members are using our agency. I am not an very active poster, I find the shear number of posts and members a bit overwhelming, but I do go there daily to read through the posts. I have a lot of suggested reading material to start on in November, when my masters is complete, which I have found this way.

Yesterday there was a post inquiring on announcements made by a fellow Texan and member of the board. I decided to check her products out and was very impressed. She has two different websites. The first one that I visited focused on items such a shirts, mugs, and aprons for mom, dad, grandpa, and grandma. This is one of the items I really liked. I know it is difficult to read what the shirt says: I'm expecting a baby from South Korea. There are many items on this website I would buy today where I a less fiscally responsible person. To be able to see this shirt better, or look at more of the items, you can go to the ladies CafePress website.

As I said before, she also does custom announcements. Even with all of my years in the invitation business I had never seen an adoption announcement done so thoughtfully. Here is one of the examples that really caught my eye. Well scratch that. Understandable her website is copyrighted. You will just have to take a visit to TheFirstGlimpse yourself if you are so inclined. The link I provided goes directly to the gallery.

The very cool blog I found, Ask a Korean, is also a product of research on the board. The post was on the top of Korean names. I have already read several of "The Korean's" posts and find them not only informative, but also enjoy them because of the humor he interjects. I will add this blog to my regular web haunts for sure!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Finger Prints Done

Frig and I went to the processing office for the USCIS today and had our finger prints completed. There are two locations in Houston and we got very lucky that one of them was less than 10 minutes from our house. I figure it took us less than 30 minutes.

The office was neat and the people that worked there were all very friendly. While we were waiting our turn I was entertained watching a family who I assumed was there for a second adoption. Their daughter was so CUTE!

The machine they used did not require ink, but used water to lightly dampen the fingers. I was fascinated with the finger printing process as it was done on this machine.

So we are one more step down and about googleplex left to go!

We also received a letter from our International agencey letting us know that our HS had been received, approved, and we are now officially on the wait list. It is not yet in Korea, but the date it is logged at the Oregon office reserves our spot in line.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Finger Prints

On Friday we received notice from USCIS regarding getting our finger prints completed. I had been concerned that the "appointment" would be a specific date and time requiring that Frig and/or I would have to take time off of work to get the finger prints completed. As it turned out there are several days we are able to go and no specific date. One of those days is Saturday. We would have loved to be able to go this past weekend, but both of us had obligations. I had tutoring and he had a class on classroom managment. So we will be going this coming Saturday to get our finger printing taken care of. We can't wait to have one more step behind us on this long journey.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Waiting for Initial US Approval

I have received a lot of questions about what's next and how long so I thought I would try to explain as best I can. Honestly, it is all so confusing I wish I had someone to sit down and explain it all to me step by step.

The next step in the process of international adoption is approval of the I-600A form (Application for the Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition). We sent the form to our local USCIS office (Citizenship and Immigration Services) back in December because it must arrive at the office prior to the HS. Once the HS arrives at our local USCIS office we will receive notice of an appointment for finger printing. Then the government will use the HS and the results of our finger printing to decide if we can adopt a child born in another country.

How long will this take? I wish I could give a exact answer to that question. The USCIS website does have a chart to show processing times. Currently they are not meeting their processing timelines. The website is updated monthly and at last update they were processing applications received on July 27, 2008. Not exactly what I was hoping to find out. At that rate we can hope to hear something in Septmeber. This is sad.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I can hardly contain myself!!!!!!!!

I just received this message from the HS agency:

From HS agency:

Hi Rachel,

If you mean is your home study approved, it has been!! I sent the home study to Holt, USCIS and to you today in the mail. You should be receiving it in the next few days along with a letter saying you are approved.
I also want to make sure you sent in your I-600A application to the USCIS already. If you haven’t please let me know and I will try to pull the packet from the mail. The USCIS must receive your paperwork before they receive ours.

Thanks, XXXX

I want to run around like a crazy lady jumping up and down and screaming for joy, but I am in class right (sshhhh don't tell anyone).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back from the post office

Frig and I recently returned from a trip to the Post Office. He didn't finish his write ups last night and I was upset with him this morning, but it turned out to work in our favor. He had to go by the doctor to pay for his last visit and they gave him the medicals. This means we have mailed off all of the required homestudy paperwork. Now we just have to wait for official approval.

I had emailed our contact at the HS agency yesterday to let her know that the information from Austin had arrived. While I had her attention I asked her a question about a letter we received from the USCIS, you might recall that we had to pay for visa approval for our future child, and they sent a notice that passport photos for the both of us are required. I had assumed that was why our HS agency request those same photocopies, but you know what happens when one assumes. Thank goodness I finally asked. So now I have to get more copies to send them off to the same government that gave me the passports in the first place. Go figure!

Now Frig and I just have to decide where we are going to go eat dinner in celebration.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mail from Austin

My mail pot (yes I said pot and that was not an error) was very full today when I arrived home which made me super hopeful that there would be something in the mail from Austin. Thankfully I did not get my hopes up without cause. Austin Municipal Courts came through with a copy of all the emails and a certified letter verifying that they could not find any record of the event as it was so minor and happened so very long ago. Frig will need to do his required write up of the incident and then he will be finished with his part.

On my way to yoga this evening I will be stopping by Walgreens to get the two pictures I owe the HS agency, 1 of us and 1 of the house, and purchase a large enough envelope. I should be able to get everything into the mail first thing in the morning.

Last week Frig took care of his urine sample for his medicals and the doctor insured him that she would mail in the paper work as soon as she received the results. At that time I emailed our contact from the agency asking that she let me know if they do not receive the medicals by the end of this week so we could follow up. I sure hope that isn't necessary.

It seems like every thing is coming together. I have been reading a book "Raising Adopted Children: A manual for adoptive parents" during my one week break between masters classes. I am finding in very informative. I have a lot to learn.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Austin Progress

It sounds like Frig might have finally gotten through with the right people in Austin. Today he paid them $2.50 and they should be mailing us the information that we need for the HS. Now we just have to wait for it to arrive. I wonder how long it will take?

It seems like we started this HS so long ago. I didn't realize how long it was going to take on our end. I thought we would be finished with our stuff so quickly and would be waiting for Korea and the US to make their steps. I didn't realize just how many road blocks there would be. I guess that is why so many couples get frustrated as they go through the process.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The meeting with the SW was super easy. She and Frig have really hit it off and most of the time they talked about movies, TV, music and her son. There was a short check list that she did have to fill out, but she didn't leave her seat on the floor of the Great room to verify anything that we said. Some of the questions were extremely inane for a city dweller (Does the family burn their garbage in an area away from kids?) and others expected us to be ready for our child to arrive tomorrow (Are the electrical sockets covered?). I really do like our SW. When she got to the electrical socket question she answered it her self with "Of course they will be when the child comes." She informed us that she will also do our post placement meetings, we have to do 2 of them, and the way she said it led us to believe it was at her request. She even offered to help get the documents from Austin, when she is there for a training in a few days, if we needed her to.

There was a list that Frig and I were supposed to fill out since the last time we had met. This was a rather long check list detailing all of the special needs we would be willing to consider. When she asked me for the form I got very nervous. It was so long ago. Would I be able to find the form? Did we "do our homework" and fill the form out? I went into the office to collect my adoption folder and brought it back into the Great room. Karen, the SW, says "I didn't bring an extra. I said to myself 'I don't need to bring an extra these people are with it'." Thankfully she was right. Frig said he had no doubt I would be able to produce it.

We also received the news that Korea is moving quickly. This came from Karen's lunch time conversation with the HS agency. Now if only we can get everything we need together so it can be sent to Korea.

Karen left, went home, and brought a movie back that she thought Frig would enjoy. Did I mention how lucky we got when we were assigned our SW?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Final HS visit

Yesterday evening the SW from the HS agency called to see if we had today off from work and if we wanted to get together to finalize the HS paperwork. Of course we do have today off and we wanted to get together. We have taken this as an opportunity to do some chores. It was just the motivator we needed. We aren't going hog wild and making everything spotless; just cleaning the kitchen and straitening up the Great Room. She is supposed to here at 1 PM. I wouldn't suspect that it will take very long. She sent us her write up via email awhile back and we already went over the whole thing, filled in all of the blanks, and sent it back to her.

There's more, Frig is currently at the doctor's trying to get a second TB test. He left over an hour ago so I am glad he took a book with him. Before he left he emptied the dish washer, filled it, and washed of the stuff that has to be done by hand. This is one of his regular chores. He is better at the day to day stuff, but ask him to do the kitchen floor or stove and you probably would be unhappy with the results.

I sure hope he gets back in time for us to have lunch before the SW gets here. I am in the mood for Tacos de Lengua...yum!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Looks Like Austin Success

It appears that we finally found a helpful soul in Austin. I sent an email last Friday via the "contact us" feature on the Austin City website. Friday afternoon my email was forwarded to someone at the municipal courts. Today we heard back from a very kind woman telling us exactly what she needed to know from us, how long it would take to process our request, and the cost. I am beyond happy.

Now if only the TB test would get taken care of...................

.......................a woman can dream can't she?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Baby Steps

I finally got a call from the social worker on Monday evening while I was cooking dinner. She was calling to get our email address so that she could send of the rough draft of our homestudy. She had some blanks that still needed to be filled in and a few things that she found to be unclear. Apparently what she does it takes a bunch of the different paperwork we gave the agency, autobiographies, finance forms, etc and puts them all into one document.

She complimented us by saying "y'all are both writers" which made me sad to think the quality of work the poor lady most normally have to read. Then she went on to say that it needed to stay as redundant as it is with our names repeated over, and over, and over (you get the picture). She also said that if we did revise anything to keep in mind that it would be translated by someone that may not speak English which I took to mean "don't use such complex sentences and use such big words".

I also emailed one of the very kind women at the HS agency yesterday to let her know how much difficulty Frig has had trying to get his disposition or certified letter from Austin. She is in Austin so she gave me some guidance but sadly for privacy reason Frig has to be the one to get the document. She seemed genuine sympathetic and asked that I keep her up to date. I didn't want her to think we weren't even trying. And was happy for some help.

Finally, I decided to do some research into leave time for adoptions and found out that the Family Medical Leave act actually provides the same 12 weeks maximum for adopted children as it does for birth children. Since Frig and I both work for the district they will not give us both 12 weeks, but we can get 12 weeks combined. When we went to the International Adoption training they said the mom should be the sole care giver for the first 6 weeks minimum, he will be able to hold the baby but not provide any other needs (food, diapers, etc) so we know I have to take at least that much time off. We will have to decide how we want to split this up. It is pretty exciting.