Monday, June 30, 2008

Homestudy and necklace arrive today!!

We received two super exciting things in the mail today...

We got our notarized homestudy! Very good news. That means Andy should be able to get our I800 form sent this week! This next stage is kind of the wildcard in the waiting game. The wait time to hear back from the CIS could be as short as a few months to as long as...we don't know. But, when you're counting in months, it all seems long.

And, maybe not so exciting to some (Andy), but very exciting to me (and any other girly-girls that love jewelry) custom-made adoption/china necklace came today! I ordered a silver necklace from a lady that loves adoption and makes great adoption related pieces of jewelry ( I took bits and pieces from things I liked and had her make a special China necklace just for me. It has the country of China molded in metal with a heart placed right where Caleb is (Chengdu) and has "faith, hope, love" imprinted on the background in Chinese characters. It is engraved with "Caleb, I will come to you" on the back. I love it, love it, love it! It was my birthday, mother's day and anniversary gift all in one.

It may seem silly to mention a necklace. But, anticipating Caleb's arrival to our family and waiting for an unknown amount of time is a bit like being pregnant with no due date. I think I just want to carry a part of Caleb with me. I want people to know he is part of our family and we are waiting for him. Aside from posting his picture on my forehead or belly, I can't think of a sweeeter thing than having this reminder to me and to others that we are preparing for and so very excited about his arrival! Whenever that may be...

Today we are one step closer and I have a small silver necklace to remind me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

homestudy complete and CNN story

Great, unexpected news today! The missing Illinois fingerprints showed up today at our social work agency! We were expecting to have to wait a few weeks to get that whole situation worked out. But now we can move on to the next step!!

The social worker is now adding the fingerprinting results into our homestudy and getting the completed, notarized document to us soon. We should have it by next week. Then we have to send a copy of it to the US Customs and Immigration Department. Once they receive it, they will schedule a fingerprinting date for us (yes, more fingerprints!). The results for those fingerprints generally take about six weeks or so to get back. In the meantime, the US will review our homestudy to give us permission to adopt. The whole process could take from one month to more than three months. We will do our best to beg and plead for them to review our homestudy quickly and expedite the process. We are hoping that they will take into consideration that Caleb is older, has special needs, and is in the earthquake region.

After we get the ok from our country, then we can finally send all of our documents to China. Then a new countdown will begin.

On another note, there is a great CNN story about a family that just adopted a little girl from the orphanage that Caleb is in. I actually met Michele via a blog of hers that I just happened to stumble upon when I was trying to find out about ChengDu and the orphanage. She and her husband actually hand-delivered a gift to Caleb a few weeks ago and got to see him! They have been such a huge blessing to us. Their newly adopted daughter, Sophie, and Caleb were friends in the orphange and they slept in the same room! Check out the short CNN story of them at this link:

If I can figure out how to go back to my previous post, I will try to finish up our "where we have been" story. Like I said earlier, I am not so good at short and concise. julia.

Friday, June 20, 2008

where we are now...where we have been

Well, let me first say that not too long ago neither of us even knew what a blog was. We aren't too skilled at computer things. Andy's computer specialty is working the Itunes/Ipod stuff out. I can fairly decently work with our digital photos on Shutterfly. Oh ya, I can do email too. Andy can fill out more "paper"work on the computer for his job than I can comprehend. And that about covers our technology expertise...combined. So, if you try to contact us via this blog thing, well, it may be year before we ever figure out that you're there!

So, here is where we are now as far as Caleb goes: We just got an email from our social worker today that said she has finished updating our homestudy. That is good news. The bad news is that she is waiting on one more thing to include in the homestudy. She needs the Illinois fingerprinting results. (For those of you who don't know, we lived in Illinois for two years when we were first married.) So, Andy will now have to contact someone in Illinois to figure out when we'll get that paperwork. Uggh. Poor Andy. Making phone calls to government offices aren't generally top on his list of things to do. But, that's what he'll be doing Monday morning.

I will try to do a bit of a re-cap of all that has been going on since we started this process in March. I'm generally not too good at keeping stories short, but I'll try. It will likely take a few days to tell even the short version. Here it is:
Andy and I had been talking and praying about adopting for years. I was ready to start the adoption process a l-o-n-g time ago. Andy wasn't. I clearly felt like God was calling us to adopt someone, somewhere, sometime. I knew that the time would be right when Andy was ready. I poked and prodded and tried to convince Andy for years that we needed to do this. That didn't turn out to be the most effective way to reach his heart. So I waited and really did believe that God would soften his heart toward adopting. He did and Andy was ready to begin the adoption process in March of 08.

There were all kinds of things we didn't know when we began this journey. Boy/girl...china/africa/ukraine/ child...sibling group...healthy/special needs...etc. We decided to start with one decision at at time. We chose an adoption agency in March and decided we would start the process slowly. Very slowly. We had just enough money to pay the $250.00 application fee and that was about it.

We completed the preliminary paperwork and were ready to take things slowly and hopefully have some (well, a lot of) time to somehow come up with all the money that we would need. As soon as we filled out the application paperwork, the agency sent us a huge binder filled with tons and tons of more paperwork. We had narrowed the countries that we would consider down to China and El Salvador based on the relatively short travel time and lower cost. Well, since we had shown an interest in China, the agency sent a piece of paper with colored photographs of "waiting children" in China. We didn't know what "waiting children" meant. But we did notice that they all had varying amounts of grant money available for each child. That sparked our interest because we didn't have anywhere near the $25,000 it was going to cost to adopt. Any grant money that was available, we were going to look in to.

Well, the "waiting children" title meant special needs and/or older child. We hadn't ever imagined or set out to adopt a special needs child at all. We seemed to think that our own healthy/non-special needs children require enough of our efforts that we couldn't really imagine inviting a more "needy" child into a our family. Let's just put it bluntly, our own children wear us out at times! But, there was one lonely looking sweet pudgey-faced little boy that caught our attention.

We requested more info on the "2 year old with repaired cleft lip/palate" child listed on the Waiting Children list. Here is what we got...
We got these two photos along with some very brief/sketchy info on "Ji Ru Ping". There was a week of "yes", this is who we will adopt and then "no", things didn't look like they were going to work out with him (there were a few other families interested in him as well) and on and on. At the end of the week, the bottom line was: he was still available. However, we had no money to proceed with the process. We needed to come up with $6,000 in about two weeks. We didn't have even close to that. We both had clear convictions that we should not go into debt to pay for the adoption. We were adopting out of a simple obedience to obey what we both felt God was calling us to do and complete faith that He would do what needed to be done to make it all happen. We certainly didn't have the money or a plan to work out all the details. We were trusting that God was in control. So, we prayed.