Thursday, December 20, 2007
We had hoped that our adoption would be a little further along by now, but it isn't, and that's OK. I expected I would be particularly contemplative and distracted around the holidays and be bummed about not having our child by now, but I'm OK. Ryan and I are excited to have a nice holiday together.
Things are very busy at work, but I am hoping to take most of next week off and enjoy family, friends, food and fun. I'm hoping to put the blackberry down and only boot up the laptop to surf the internet and check our fantasy football teams, but that may be a little optimistic.
I just want to send all kinds of good thoughts, vibes, feelings, prayers, etc. to a couple of families who are very close to having their children home. We're thinking about you, and learning from you!
Merry Christmas all!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
There are a couple of steps for us to do in the meantime:
(1) Get our priest referral letter;
(2) Take pictures of us and our house;
(3) Finish online adoption classes;
(4) Have all documents authenticated/apostilled; and
(5) Have USCIS fingerprinting done (we are waiting for the appointment to be scheduled).
So...there will still be things to report on while we await immigration.
Friday, December 7, 2007
One of the victims was John McDonald, the father of a partner in the litigation department at my firm.
One of the wounded is a 34 year old lawyer in town with whom I went to law school.
Please keep the victims' families in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.
Friday, November 30, 2007
OK, no, we didn't have any amazing news about our future family member today. But I will say, I just had one of the best days ever. I don't know if the stars were aligned or something (and I don't even believe in the stars being aligned), but everything went my way today.
I really don't know where to start. I guess I will just list the amazing things that happened today:
1. I prepared and filed an awesome brief at work today.
2. I had a great lunch with people at work.
3. We got news at work that raises are likely coming (and I got paid today).
4. WE GOT OUR HOMESTUDY!!! It is IN HAND, and we will mail it to immigration tomorrow.
5. I got 2 items for our dossier notarized.
6. I picked up another item for our dossier from our homestudy agency.
7. I brought my secretary a beverage at 4:30 p.m. and it made her happy.
8. I got news that I had an awesome victory in a case that I knew was a close one, and it had tough constitutional first amendment issues involved.
9. I got a new laptop bag that is the cutest and most lightweight bag ever. I put it on my shoulder at I just felt confident and happy - it is awesome.
10. I got a notice that I am getting $25 from a class action suit in the mail.
11. I used my new "Prada" purse that my Dad got me from China. It rocks.
12. I got 6 Express Jet bucks in the mail today, just for signing up for the frequent flier club, that is the equivalent to 2 glasses of wine, or 6 beers on our flights to California for Christmas.
13. My husband and I had a great date at the best steak place ever in Omaha (the Drover), it was incredible. I told the host that I had a great day. And when we left, he said he hoped my awesome day continued into tomorrow.
14. We saw my in-laws tonight after our date, and I had this wonderful white russian drink, and my father-in-law paid for the tab to make sure my perfect day stayed perfect (it did).
15. We got the forecast for a rainy, snowy, icy day tomorrow, and I have NO WORK that I have to do, so I can bundle up, put wood in the fire, watch The Office dvds, and do nothing for 2 whole days.
What more could one want in a day?
I will just say, that I am very blessed, lucky, happy, and fortunate to be where I am.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It is inevitable that we will have ups and downs in this process. We just need to learn to accept that! There is no major "up" or "down" this week, although the relative inertia has been a general downer. Things are moving along a little better now, so here were are on an upswing again.
Earlier this week I was feeling very frustrated at this all. What is supposed to be a joyous period of excitement and anticipation was feeling very much like studying for the bar exam (ok, it isn't that bad.) But I vented a bit, and began to feel better. I think I just need designated venting time, and I need to admit that it is OK to be frustrated. It also helped that I found the right people to talk to. I really do need to make more friends that are adopting or have adopted.
I have gotten some wonderful suggestions this week. I should start learning a little Polish. I do have a great CD set my mom gave me. I also can start thinking about planning "the room." Of course we will need to know age/sex to determine some things, but I can certainly start to plot out the options. We can also work on the rest of the house, like where are we going to put all of that luggage and extra "stuff" that is just being stored in "the room?" We also need to take a few adoption classes, in addition to the one we completed a few months ago. This is a good time to do that.
Friday, November 16, 2007
OK! Homestudy report complete! We are officially unstuck! (insert applause here).
As of today, our homestudy agency in Nebraska has officially completed, finalized and printed out our homestudy and sent it to our main agency. That agency will attach its certification (they've already reviewed the report) and send it to us so that we may send it to Citizenship and Immigration (CIS) for processing.
Right now it appears that CIS is taking about 3 months to process these petitions. Ours could take more or less time, who knows. With the holidays in there, I imagine it could take longer. Somewhere in this processing time, they will schedule us to come in for fingerprints. We have had fingerprints done for our background checks and homestudy report, but these will be for the federal government, and they have a special requirement and set an appointment for it.
After CIS is done, then we can finalize our paperwork (dossier) and have it sent to Poland.
At this point, it feels like we are moving again. We can get going with those last few loose ends for our dossier while immigration is processing. I also will have a new answer for people when they ask "how is the adoption going." My new answer will be, "immigration is processing our petition." I can deal with that one for a few months!
I'll be sure to check in more on the Blog though. I know how you rely on me as a source of information (and as a distraction from work, etc.).
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I think we are stuck. I think this homestudy report will never be complete.
If I have to answer the question "how are things with the adoption going?" with the response "fine, still waiting for our homestudy report to be finalized" I think I will spontaneously burst into tears right in front of the innocent unsuspecting questioner. It doesn't matter if that person is a friend, co-worker, boss, family member, whatever...that person is going to get more than they bargained for.
That being said, I am hoping that the fact that I am admitting frustration will somehow align the stars so that things will move along. It is akin to this: when you lose your keys, and you finally give up and go get new ones made, then you find your old ones. I can hear a voice in my head saying "ok already! I understand this is a tedious and frustrating process, I've learned enough from this part of the process, lesson learned, OK, let's move on now!" So, I completely expect to have an email later today saying it is all done and that we can send it to immigration now. (See crossing fingers picture below).
I would love to place blame somewhere, but I am afraid it is inherent in the process and in the country we chose. We didn't pick China, Guatemala, or Russia and there aren't thousands of adoptions from Poland every year. There are 67. Yes, 67 children were adopted from Poland into the U.S. last year. That reason alone probably explains why our homestudy report isn't an easy form that has been done billions of times before. Right now, I would love to blame our homestudy agency for not moving things along faster. But they could point to us taking 2 months to get our doctor visits and reports completed, or to our agency for not giving explicit instructions from the start. So we are all to blame, or there is simply no "blame" at all.
So, we feel stuck, but we somehow have faith that things will move along. They have to. Other families have gotten through this and adopted from Poland, so we know it is possible. If nothing else, our agencies won't get paid until things move along! We at least have faith that we are working with businesses that are motivated by completing services and receiving payment (among other more human motivations, I am sure).
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The report looks good. It makes us look like perfect, moral, financially stable, healthy, clean people who will be better parents than anyone in the universe. Now...a couple of those propositions are admittedly true, but not all of them! But I suppose a Polish court would rather hear that than hear "they will probably be OK parents, but I am sure they have no idea what they are doing."
One of my personal favorate parts of the report has to do with Ryan's family. Bascially, we had written a paragraph on each of his parents and his brother and sister. Well, they have added the following language: "[family member] is supportive regarding the adoption and accepts being a [grandfather/gradmother/aunt/uncle] to children not born to Ryan's wife." Funny. I can't imagine it being anything different.
So, now the report is back in our Agency's hands. Hopefully we will have the signed and finalized copies soon.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Crossing fingers! We just got word that our homestudy report is complete (again), and that it is off to our agency for approval. I think it should be good to go because it was modeled after a sample that was recently sent to the person writing the report. Hopefully we will have approval in-hand in the next couple of days!
To make a (slightly) long story short...we spent quite a bit of time in the past week or two gathering info. We had to put together some descriptions of each family member; compile a multitude of documents (proof of life insurance, health insurance, employment letters, mortgage deed, car insurance, birth certificates, credit card statements, retirement account info, etc.)and; answer a few questions. Much of it was already compiled before, so it wasn't difficult, just a wee bit time consuming.
We are getting closer! I'll report back soon.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Good headway on our homestudy report. We had a few changes to make and things have been rewritten, but I beleive that is coming along now. Hopefully our dossier requirements have not changed in the meantime - I should probably check on that!
I have had several comments about the last post. I thank you for your support and comments. I imagine some of you are surprised that I would be so open about such an intense subject. I suppose that I am just in a good place about it all. I also want people to know that they can talk about it - either to me, or someone else.
People who deal with infertility share a huge and powerful secret. But we don't need to suffer in silence.
OK - I'm going to lay off the fertility subject for awhile. Let's start talking about fun stuff - about kid stuff! More to come...
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I will say this: infertility sucks. It is horrid. It is a heart wrenching, emotional rollercoaster that no one should have to go through. And it is entirely unfair.
Why is it that one person can get pregnant without trying (or even while preventing), but another can try for months or years and nothing happens? Why is it that hospitals are overflowing with babies being born and the population of the world increases daily, but fertility increases annually too? Why does it affect me, but none of my friends? And why can I not have a baby that is a gorgeous combination of me and my husband? Not fair.
Here we are, completely beyond ready to be parents (well, as "ready" as someone can be). We are financially comfortable, we have the house, live near great schools, have a great support system, and we are not too young and not too old. On paper, we are good to go.
Once we were "paper ready", we went for it. We stopped preventing and decided to see what happened. OK, well, nothing happened for 4-5 months. Then we started actively trying - you know, timing things and such. Still…nothing. After about a year, we sought help. I was tentatively diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is an obnoxious syndrome that messes with your ovaries and can prevent ovulation. It can also go hand in hand with insulin resistance. To make a long story short, we worked on treating the symptoms.
My doctor put me on glucophage/metformin to treat the PCOS. I don't know if it did anything other than give me annoying side effects.
A year or two later we moved back to Nebraska. I began seeing a different doctor here who agreed with the PCOS diagnosis. The new doctor did not agree with the insulin resistance part, and saw no reason for me to be on glucophage/metformin. They ordered a bunch of tests to be done on me and on Ryan. After quite a few months of "fertility workup" it pretty much came down to my ovaries being a bit dysfunctional and not releasing eggs.
So, the next 8-10 months involved frequent visits to the fertility clinic. I would go at the very beginning of my cycles to get a "baseline" ultrasound measuring follicles on my ovaries. (One follicle is supposed to release an egg in the middle of the cycle - hence, ovulation.) I would then take Clomid for 5 days. Then I would return to the doctor on about day 11 of my cycle to see if the follicles had grown and if there is a dominant one that looks like it would release an egg. If there was one that appeared dominant, then the doctor would give me an injection with the intent of triggering ovulation on day 15 or so. One bummer was that more than half the time I couldn't even do the Clomid because I had small cysts, which are exacerbated by Clomid. So, we didn't even have a chance of taking the medications each month.
To make a long story short - the months of this were (obviously) not successful. They were heart wrenching months full of disappointment. Each month brought tears - sometimes from leaving the doctor's office, sometimes over negative ovulation or pregnancy tests, and sometimes over just thinking about it all. We then had our next decision to make: How far would we go with fertility treatments?
I will admit that there was much more we could have done with fertility treatments. We stopped short of doing intrauterine insemination, and stopped well short of in vitro fertilization. My doctor didn't seem thrilled with either option for me. The first, intrauterine insemination, wouldn't work unless I ovulated and an egg was actually released. If that was possible, then we would be successful without artificial insemination. The second, in vitro, is very expensive and doesn't have very good success chances based on the cost. After taking much time to weigh these options, we were ready to throw this disappointing phase behind us and be excited about having a child. Adoption was the decision! And that is where this blog begins, in January 2007.
This is really the short version (although I'm sure you beg to differ based on the length of this post). I am actually very content to discuss this with anyone. It is part of our journey. Too many people are confronted with infertility in one way or another. I think our society should be a bit more open to comforting those who go through this. It is a real issue. It is an issue of grief, loss, love, and family. It tests your strength, your relationship and your faith. It is the worst, and quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
A couple of positive steps in the adoption have taken place since the past update. We don't have our homestudy report yet, but we have been communicating with our homestudy gal and it is moving along. Last week we had a bit of back and forth on some issues to be addressed in our homestudy report.
Basically, Poland wants to know that we intend to maintain the child's heritage. There appears to be a concern that we will take said child, call him/her an American and live happily ever after without considering his/her Polish heritage. Well, that certainly isn't our intention. So it was good to put in writing that we consider it something to be very proud of. It was a good opportunity to discuss my grandfather's heritage and distant relatives that live there. I don't have current knowledge or contact with them, but it feels comforting to know that we can tell our child that we share his or her connection to Poland, at least to some small degree.
We also were able to say that we intend to return to Poland one day (or multiple times in the future), so that our child may visit the country and maintain and revisit the connection. Perhaps one day we would find occasion to meet and visit with my distant relatives there as well.
In addition to the homestudy progress, we continue to complete our dossier items. We have everything done with the exception of our Priest's letter of recommendation, our homestudy agency's license and pictures of us and the house. We rock! We'll get those last couple of things done and then have our agency make sure we did it all properly.
OK, now one positive item that is not adoption-related. I had my fantasy football draft last night (yes, I am a geek), and I drafted first! That has to be the first time ever that I had the number 1 pick. So, yes, I selected LaDainian Tomlinson. That is fantastsic because he is only the best running back ever. AND, he is a Charger. I hope I don't jinx him...
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Our homestudy is virtually done. Everything has been completed on our end. We understand that preparation of the report is in progress, and we hope to have it in hand any day. That will be a great step!
As soon as that is done, we will immediately send it to the USCIS for their processing of our I-600A. (The petition to make our "orphan" a citizen). That can take a couple of months. Right now, according to the USCIS website, they are currently processing applications dated May 15. That sounds like 3 months, but I know people who have said it has gone faster.
While the immigration stuff is processing, we will complete the last couple of items for our dossier, and get the apostilling done. I will update our checklist on this site soon.
I've been hearing of quite a few families uniting with their children in Poland recently. Some have just returned home, some are there, and some have travel dates. It is very exciting! Congratulations to those families. You are a great encouragement, and we know our day will come too.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
In the meantime, we continue to get our dossier together. There are a couple of things we must do, but we are dependant upon other things happening too. Hopefully we will be checking more things off soon.
I started to write a post on infertility. It is somewhat difficult to do that because we are so thrilled with our adoption decision. The post I was drafting seemed a bit heavy. But dealing with infertility is akin to grief...so that would be a bit "heavy."
I will post on infertility soon though. So many of us are dealing with it. The more we talk about it, the more we can get a handle on it and learn to deal with it.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I know plenty of people that have gone through the homestudy process in much less time, but it hasn't been too bad. At the same time that the homestudy process has been ongoing, we have also been accomplishing the other items for our dossier. There are really only a couple of items that we still need. We need one reference form completed from our Church, the license from our homestudy agency, pictures of us and the house and the I-171 (which is approval to adopt from U.S. Citizenship and Immigraton Services or USCIS). We will accomplish those last few paperwork items while USCIS is processing us.
Once we have those done, we will send them to our agency to verify that everything has been completed properly. Then we will send items for apostilling/certifiacation with the secretary of state.
So...it is coming along. Just have to make this final push with the paperwork.
My apologies if the posts have become boring. As I look back it appears I have resorted to just checking in and updating on the next paperwork that we are doing. How dry is that? I am sure that it would be much more interesting to read about our preparations for becoming parents. I know you would rather read about whether we hope for a boy or a girl, what kind of stuff we will buy to prepare the child's room, what names we are considering or how we expect our lives to change when we become a family of 3 as opposed to 2.
These are mostly areas that we have not even thought about yet. It is like we don't believe there is a child at the end of the process. I don't know if that comes from our infertility disappointments or what. I just still feel like something may go wrong, like our agency may suddenly cease to exist, Poland may quit permitting international adoptions, or, if they don't stop adoptions, maybe we will never get "matched."
I need to have a little faith though. I have followed quite a few families that have completed adoptions through Poland, and other countries. The chances that something will interfere at this point are minimal. I just need to get over myself and realize we are doing the right things to make this happen.
So, that leaves me to the 5150 issue that I left you with on the last post. Yes, besides the mileage between Omaha, Nebraska and Poland, there is another meaning to it (and there is no way I would have expected you to know this, unless you are a police officer in California.) 5150 is the California police code for insanity and it is a call-in for a mentally unstable person that causes disrest to the general public.
Well, there is a little insanity in all this, and definitely mental instability. The 5150 on the blog title signifies the journey, the distance, but it also conveys the difficulty and the emotional journey. We came to adoption after some tough experiences, and those are things that will always be with us. Adopting our child will be the best thing that ever happens to us. 5150 is the journey that takes us from one of the worst things that we have gone through to the very best. This necessarily implicates some sort of insanity in the meantime.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Extra credit points for you if you can figure out the dual meaning of 5150. The obvious side is that it is literally the mileage between Omaha and Warsaw. That in itself conveys the journey, the distance, and the difficulty we are faced with. But there is another significance to 5150. As a hint, I like the band Van Halen. It isn’t anything personal or especially meaningful – it is just something that the number represents. I know you are biting your nails with curiosity, so I will post the answer in a couple of days.
I want to say a special “hi” to my favorite brother, Kevin. Hey dude. Yes, I just gave you a “shout out” on the blog. I know you have been clamoring for a new blog entry for some time, so this one had to at least mention you. The truth is, I am very excited for you to be an uncle, and I wanted to put that in writing. I know you will be the coolest uncle to your future niece or nephew, just like you will be a great dad one day. :-)
OK, for those keeping score at home, we crossed off a couple of items from the list this week. We hope to cross off quite a few more in the next two weeks also! Stay tuned...
Saturday, June 2, 2007
In writing out this list it makes it look like we still have so far to go. That is alright though, we know that things are coming along fine. I am sure there will be a point that everything will move very quickly.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
It had not even crossed my mind that Mother's Day had anything to do with me. But I suppose it does! I guess it is like we are pregnant. Although, instead of morning sickness I get papercuts. Instead of being tired and having a sore back, I get documents notarized and suffer pains in understanding all of the requirements we must follow. Instead of frequent doctor visits, I have trips to the bank to get documents notarized and visits with a social worker.
But it is all good! One day (soon, I'm sure) I'll allow myself to indulge in the fun stuff like thinking of names, clothes, furniture, hugs, car seats, pediatricians, day care, play dates and being called mom.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
But, it all went just fine. In fact, like most parts of this adoption that I thought would be challenging, it wasn't anything to really worry about.
We went to Ryan's old family doctor. This doctor delivered Ryan's sister, and has been treating Ryan's family for 25 years or so. Ryan had good memories of him and the doctor treats all ages, so we figured he would be a good one to go to for these general physicals. And, so far so good.
At the visit we first saw the nurse. She took all our vitals and got our files in order. Then the doctor came in and spent about 30 minutes chatting with us and doing a solid basic examination. The best part was that we didn't have to do any bloodwork! We already had all the necessary tests taken at another doctor not too long ago, and this doctor was happy to use those results. Ryan lucked out there - he was dreading the needle!
Basically, we need to give the doctor a week or so to complete the forms, then I will follow up and see if there is anything else we need to do. Barring that, we should be able to get the forms and check that one off the list.
So, it is all going well. I'm still not ready to seriously believe I will be a mom though. It still feels like we are just applying for something...like a mortgage, or a general background check like for the bar exam. I've pretty much told myself I can start feeling things when our dossier is sent in. And again, I picture that being August. I did get a super "mother-to-be" card from Ryan's Grandmother on Mother's Day. That was the sweetest thing, and it is the closest I've come to realizing this might really happen.
Friday, May 4, 2007
A couple of happenings this week. Most importantly, we made our doctor appointment. We will both go in at the same time for our appointments and hopefully get all our tests and the exam done in one visit. Our doctor has a notary in the office and will fill out the forms and send them back to us within days. Glad we will soon be able to check that one off our list.
We've been working on other items for our dossier as well. We need notarized letters of child abuse and criminal clearance. I've sent in letters to the appropriate agencies along with return envelopes. Hopefully we will get those soon. After that, we need to take some pictures of us and the house and finalize our references.
I still think we are on track to have the dossier on its way by August 1!
Other than our adoption, there are lots of happenings in our lives right now. Most importantly is Ryan's sister, Jessica. She is having a difficult time right now. We love her so very much and know she will be better soon.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The class we took was an 8-hour course on issues related to bringing home internationally adopted children. It was required by our homestudy agency, and probably the state too. The subjects ranged from bonding and attachment issues, to specific behavioral issues related to being in orphanages, to approaching the adoption subject with the child. It was eye-opening to say the least and it sure brought us down to earth.
The class basically started with video clips from orphanages around the world. The conditions in these places are very tough, sterile and institutionalized. There is no giggling, there are no hugs and no individual attention. You can only imagine what the conditions are like for any length of time. It was easy to understand that there will be certain behaviors that will likely result from living in an environment like that. It won't necessarily be easy to figure out how to handle that. But we did get pointers, and things to look for. We got advice on how to react to certain behaviors - as opposed to resulting to discipline. It seemed to make sense, but again, we'll see how we do in real life!
The Home Visit
OK, was I really worried about this one? It was a piece of cake. Let's put it this way. If you read this whole entry, then you probably spent more time on this than the social worker spent at our house yesterday.
I'll give you the blow-by-blow anyway. Basically, we sat down at our dining room table for about 5 minutes. We chatted for a bit about how the class went, and how she is doing with getting our background checks and such done. Then we took her on a tour of our abode - um, 2 minutes upstairs and 2 minutes downstairs. She had a couple of documents I wanted to make copies of - then, poof, it was over. Easy.
Before we knew it, Ryan and I were off to happy hour and had a great little dinner of cocktails and appetizers.
So, nothing to worry about. She didn't look in any cabinets, drawers or our pantry. Really the best thing about it was that it made us pick up around the house and clean out the "kid's room." (I have to put that in quotes, since it isn't really anyone's room right now.) So, we can check this one off our list.
At our happy hour dinner last night, Ryan and I talked about issues that might come up in our individual interviews today (yes, to get our stories straight). Again, we over-prepared. Our interviews were about 45 minutes long and they both went well. Mine was second, and I got confirmation that our answers were consistent!
Essentially we had to talk about our relationship, our upbringing, our views toward parenting and thoughts on discipline. I don't really like talking about myself that long, but it was over soon enough. And, check that off our list!
So we accomplished a lot this week. We are really in the home-stretch of our homestudy. Our next immediate steps are the medical exam and getting notarized criminal background letters. Hopefully I'll be reporting back on those very soon!
After that, we have a few tough steps for immigration and our dossier (the packet sent to Poland), but it is manageable. My hope is that we have all of this done and our dossier on its way to Poland by August 1. That is a realistic date, but a lot of it depends upon the government, so we'll see!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I'm pretty sure I know where I fall…right in the middle. I think there is something to be said for presenting a clean home that at least has the beginnings of childproofing. I don’t think that I will go around and put plastic covers in every outlet, put breakables on high shelves or childproof all low cabinets just yet. And I don't think I want to clean so much that it looks like we always live that way and will be intolerable of messy little people.
Perhaps a little tidying up, checking the smoke detectors and getting another fire extinguisher will be sufficient. Of course we will put away some of the booze too. And I'll put on coffee…but not do cookies. Seems a bit over-kill.
I think we are ready for it. I don't really have anxiety about it, just want to be prepared! Want to see an explanation of what they do in a home study? See Adoption at About.com.
We have our all-day adoption class this Friday. Time to get some education. I'll report in after that.
Friday, April 13, 2007
So many people are adopting!! I swear, every time I tell someone new about this, they tell me of someone who is or just has adopted. So many are adopting internationally too. The most common countries have been China, Guatemala, Russia, Ukraine, and Ethiopia. I still think we may be the first in Nebraska to adopt from Poland though!
I do want to address the whole Angelina Jolie factor. She has really put a spotlight on international adoption. People joke that she has popularized it to the extent that picking out children is like picking out a new purse. I'd like to think that she is giving homes to children in orphanages who otherwise would grow up without a family. Also, she isn't exactly adopting newborns - her recent addition was a three-year-old from Vietnam. Once the children are toddler age and older, they become "harder to place." And their chances of getting adopted fall dramatically every year.
When asked about preferred age, many adopting families say "the younger the better." I suppose we say this too. I mean, we are going to be first time parents. Of course we want to have our child with us from the earliest point in their life possible. It is arguably better for adjustment and attachment issues for the child. (Although I've heard plenty of people say that the older children transition better because they understand that their parents have come for them.) But is an older child any less deserving of a family and a home? Of course not. OK, enough of the age subject. I'm sure I will go more into it when we are officially "waiting."
I will say this - the more people adopt internationally, the more colorful and interesting our local world becomes. (This is coming from monochromatic West Omaha, Nebraska). One benefit is that our child will not have to look far to find people who came to their parents in the same way he or she did.
I guess these are just some miscellaneous thoughts for the day. I was considering writing on some infertility stuff. I know some people are coming to this Blog who are dealing with infertility. They may have decided on the adoption path, or be considering it. We came to adoption after about 3 years of not being able to get pregnant. I'll write more on it soon - it is certainly part of our journey.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
My understanding is that the powers that be in Polish adoption are very keen on placing children with families that have this connection and hope that the children will know their heritage. Beyond this, I think it is important to embrace the culture and history that one has; especially for internationally adopted children. By the nature of being adopted, a child will always have the wonder of where they come from, and what could have been. They likely know very little about their birthparents and will naturally have curiosities about the people of the place of their origin. I'll be proud to have some essentially ancestral connection to my child.
I think when we are done with this procedural paper pushing, and when we are officially "waiting", that we will make more efforts to learn about the culture and language. Right now, honestly, we are still a bit in disbelief that we will really be parents. I think that must be the infertility issues talking. I mean, we've been disappointed before. We have this sort of, "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude. I don't want to have this attitude. But it is what it is.
I truly believe that it will take having our dossier being finally submitted to Poland to really be able to enjoy the anticipation and believe that this is real.
OK - back to the "ebracing a new culture" part of this post. OK - I've taken a brief glance at Polish linguistics. Holy crap! I know nothing about Slavic languages. I mean...I've taken Spanish, French, Latin, Greek...I understand a bit of other romance and germanic lanugages and even some Cyrillic (just insofar as the Greek characters are similar). It looks very difficult, to say the least. Well, we will probably just take it one word at a time. Our aim will be to try to pick up enough to get around when we visit Poland and maybe have a few words in common with our child when we meet him or her!
Quick update - we just got our homestudy fingerprinting done. It was easy. Then we sent a few things to our social worker. Next step - medical exams and reference letters.
Friday, March 30, 2007
At the meeting we also scheduled our next couple of meetings. First, we scheduled the home visit. It sounds like the gal we are working with will come visit our house one time - probably for no more than an hour. We will give her a tour and talk about our home environment. The day after that we will have separate hour-long interview meetings with her. So we better get our stories straight! Then I think that may be the last of the homestudy meetings, so that isn't too bad!
In the next few weeks we need to get fingerprinting done, have medical exams, and take a day long class. That is all doable. Then, there are some other things we need to get going on for our dossier. So…the ball is rolling!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Here's another question - what the heck are we doing for these few months before we submit everything to Poland?
If I recall correctly off the top of my head, our dossier will be comprised of 17 items. Some seem easy - like copies of our passports. But, nothing on this list is easy. The passport copies will require more than just photocopying. We have to get a passport oath form from the secretary of state, have it notarized, then send it to the secretary of state for apostilling (which is away of authenticating documents in a format that foreign governments will recognize) with 10 bucks per copy (of course we need 2 originals). Once those apostilled copies are returned, then 1 thing will be done!
Some of the other items include our completed homestudy, immigration approval, notarized doctor exams (following visits to get all the right tests done), reference letters (supposedly one coming from a priest) and multiple background checks, to name a few. Now…we can't get immigration approval until the homestudy is done. We can't get the doctor form filled out until the right tests are done and we transfer our current doctor records. We are doing background checks for our homestudy - so those may be the same ones we need for the dossier. I guess what I am trying to say is that it seems like so many parts of this dossier are dependant upon getting other parts done! It is a bit overwhelming, but I keep telling myself that many people have completed this, so it is all possible!
OK. I realize that hearing about my complaining is not the most entertaining read. So, I will try to focus on the steps that we are getting done, as opposed to whining. I also want to document a little more than just the paper process. I mean seriously, we are adopting a human being here. One day we will look back on the paperwork as a very minor part of this whole deal.
One thing that made this feel real was seeing someone else's referral recently. ("Referral" is what is sent to you when you are matched with a child by the powers that be.) One gal's blog that I've been following reported that they had just received a referral! She posted information and pictures! Wow. Imagine that - one day getting a picture and info sent to you and then having to decide to accept a referral. Or, put plainly, deciding on whether or not to accept a child! OK…there are so many questions and thoughts that come to mind regarding this referral and acceptance process. I will post more about that when we are officially "waiting." For now, we focus on accomplishing the tasks that we have to get done to get to that waiting stage.
We told Ryan's Grandparents about our news last night. They were very happy for us. They had a couple of questions and comments that really got me excited. First - Ryan's grandpa asked if he was ready to be a dad! That got me warm and fuzzy inside just picturing him being a dad. His grandma said exactly what I was thinking: "is anyone really ever ready to be a dad?"
The other question was asking if we have thought yet about names. Names! Yes - we get to do that! I mean, our child will probably come with a name…but we can keep it, change it, Americanize it, whatever! Thinking about names is exciting because it is thinking about an identity - and picturing where we will be when this "process" is all done.
OK - one last thing about our conversation that I want to mention - they want to know the age/sex so they can know what kind of toys they can buy! Toys! I mean, I know it is obvious that kids play with toys. But we are talking about OUR child playing with toys. I've never even imagined grandparents buying toys for OUR child. I think that infertility crap has us so jaded and unwilling to accept excitement. Gotta change that.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Q. How old will your child be when he/she joins your family?
A. Dunno! Our agency says that between 1 and 2 years old is realistic and possible. We are young -- 32 and 33 is young for adopting, but um, middle-aged in terms of natural parenting. We've heard that the Polish adoption authority tends to place younger children with younger parents. But who really knows the magic placement formula. We do know that most children placed in orphanages have had to remain on a national registry for some time (6-8 mos.+) before becoming available for adoption. I think that is because they want to have this time to be sure that terminating parental rights is appropriate and see if there is some placement possible by an extended birth family member. Our agency has placed children as young as 8 months, although over a year old is much more likely. We have checked the 0-3 box.
Q. Do you get to choose your specific child?
A. Nope - our child will pick us! OK…well, at least the Polish adoption authority will match us. Our understanding is that they meet periodically and place children with adopting parents and then send a "referral" to the parents. This referral will come with pictures, medical information and any other info that they can send. Then, we will have time to think it through and talk with a doctor about any medical concerns. If we are comfortable, we accept the referral. If we are not, we can decide to wait for another referral.
Q. Will you be getting a boy or a girl?
A. Dunno! Whatever happens, happens. We thought about this for about 2 minutes. Then we checked the "either" box. In some circles I hear that boys are generally more "available" than girls…but that is not necessarily the case. We'll roll the dice on this one.
Q. Why Poland?
A. The beauty of responding to this question here is that I've written a blog entry on that one below. See January 25, 2007.
Q. Do you have to go to Poland?
A. Yes, twice! The first trip will be to officially meet our child, they call this a bonding trip. It is also when we will have our first court hearing to state our intentions to adopt the specific child. The court will then set a final court hearing about a month later. Then, the second trip will be to return for the final court hearing and bring our child home.
Q. How long does this process take?
A. Approximately one year. Our agency says they like to see adoptions completed within a year. I've seen some take less time, and many take more time. A lot of it depends on if you accept the first referral that you are sent. If we do, I believe we could travel on the first trip by the end of this year, or beginning of next year. If we do not accept the first referral, it could be well into next year when it is all completed.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Alright - the cat is out of the bag! The parents have been told. My parents were in town this last weekend, and we had Ryan's parents over for dinner on Saturday. We didn't have much of a plan as to how to tell them, other than telling them all over a toast. So, I poured our sparkling wine and we lifted our glasses and I looked at Ryan. He said "we have an announcement…" and that they were going to be grandparents. Before they could raise concern over my sipping my second glass of wine, I said "we have decided to adopt."
They all seemed excited - albeit surprised! I could feel my mom's jaw drop and my dad was immediately beaming. Ryan's parents were happy as well. Ron said he couldn't wait to tell Keaton. We explained a little about the process and why we chose international adoption as opposed to domestic. We also talked a bit about Poland and my mom's connection to it.
Ah yes, my mom was indeed surprised. She has been the one more in-the-loop than anyone with our infertility stuff. I could have (and perhaps should have) told her before hand, as opposed to springing this on her. I forgot how she hates surprises! There was a time in law school when I came home at Thanksgiving when they had not expected me. That gave her enough of a heart attack. And this is a bit bigger than a surprise visit! Ah well, what's done is done. She assures me that it is sinking in now.
So, after our news we had a really nice dinner and visit. Relief set in and I was glad that it was "out there." We've been so secretive for so long as we have not let many people in on our fertility difficulties. It is nice to be on a journey that essentially has guaranteed success, and wonderful to now have the support and interest of our families.
I'm a bad sister though. I just realized that I haven't called Kevin to tell him about this all! That is my mission for tonight.
I do have more to update on - just with some of the homestudy and dossier process. I am almost done with my 4 page autobiography. That one is a bit of a challenge. It is tough to fit your life into a few pages and pick and choose the right stuff to make it sound like you'll be the world's best parent, but are realistic at the same time. I am sure I am over-thinking it. Beyond that, there is a long list of stuff to get done. Some of it seems logistically impossible (like getting a medical exam and having the doctor's signature notarized and having our references submit notarized letters), but that is why it takes a few months to get it all done. Many people have completed these very same steps before us, so we know it can be done.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
We're starting our homestudy! We got our initial paperwork to get going on it. We have medical forms, reference forms, fingerprint forms, releases of information, background checks, etc. Then we each have to do a 4 page autobiography. Beyond that, there will be interviews, home visits, an all day training class, and more. I guess I just found out why the home study takes 3 months.
I know Ryan sees it a lot of this as a burden. But I see it as exciting. Everything we get done is one step closer to our child. I told myself that I was allowed to get excited about this once our homestudy was under way. It still feels a bit premature to get too excited. But it is all really starting to happen. We will tell our parents this weekend. That will make it real!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
So, I've been trying to figure out what to give up for Lent. I know I don't have to give anything up - and there are plenty of years when I haven't - but I want to get a little closer in touch with the Catholic inside of me. I could give up some food, drinks, etc. But I think I want to focus on actions more than that. First, I've decided to give up road rage. I know that sounds odd. The truth is, I drive fine - generally just over the speed limit, I signal my lane changes and turns without fail, I am very aware of the cars around me, I plan ahead, etc. My downfall is a**hole drivers who speed excessively and don't signal. My adrenaline gets pumping and I feel like I want to block them out of my lane, or teach them a lesson or something. So I will speed to block them out or otherwise plot to foil their next move. I realize this is dangerous and stupid. So, 40 days of consciously avoiding that behavior should do me some permanent good. Other than that, I really should do something else - perhaps food related, work related? I'll come up with something.
Friday, February 16, 2007
The next step will be to do the I-600 form and send that puppy to Immigration Services. Then the home study. Once the form is sent and the home study started we will start to tell people and it will be even more real!
We've not yet told our parents. For this reason, we've not yet told our friends and work places. It has been very tempting to talk about it, especially with Jen & Quinn, but we really need to let our parents in first! I think I've written this before, but the plan is to do that when my parents come out here in March - three weeks from today. We're trying to think of how to tell them. Do we tell my parents first? Or his? Do we do something cute? Tell them over a toast?
I don't want to sit them down and make it all serious. I don't want it to be about fertility issues and I don't want it to be about me.
I like the toast idea. I want it to be something to celebrate. Perhaps that is the best way. Have Ryan's parents over when my parents are here. Break out some cool champagne that I have. And toast to the new grandchild who will be traveling a long way to join our family!
I do have a fear that my mom will be surprised and think we should have worked on our fertility issues a bit more. That's ok though. I have been talking with her about every dr. visit and diagnosis over the past year. (Although I've been dealing with fertility stuff for the past 3+ years). I have not given them much warning, so this may be a bit of a shock! That makes me lean towards telling them separately from Ryan's folks. We'll see though. I know everyone will be happy for us and supportive.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
I guess I understand it, but it makes it a bit difficult. There is a gal at my work that can notarize things, and I will be asking her to help, but this will take some time and I want to catch her when she isn't busy. Also, our bank notarizes things for free...but again, this will take quite a long time. I guess I just need to enlist their help then thank them with Starbucks gift cards or something!
As a status update - as soon as we submit this contract with payment, we will be delving into the homestudy, immigration and dossier arenas. I believe our first step will be filing the I-600A with the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is to begin the process of receive approval to bring an orphan to the United States with an immigrant visa and then obtain citizenship upon entry into the U.S. Then we will begin the homestudy with a Nebraska licensed homestudy agency. This will involve a variety of background checks, social worker visits and interviews, and who knows what else. It is involved in every adoption, domestic or international. All the while we will be working to gather all of the materials required for the dossier. The dossier is the packet of paperwork that will be sent to Poland. So, my little notary complaints are extremely minor compared to the adventure ahead!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
We have been researching and thinking about adoption for a long time. How we ultimately decided on Poland was much more difficult than it should have been. I have Polish ancestry (ok, well, my family does. I was adopted, but I consider my parents' ancestry mine). My mother and her father's family was Polish. He spoke Polish as does his sister. One of my Aunts took it up as well.
There have been Polish "things" around me all my life...albeit little things, such as clothes my grandparents brought back and made me wear and items they brought back for my parents to have in the house. Although I've never been to Poland, there is
some connection there!
OK, let me back up a bit. I guess I could even go into how we decided on international adoption, as opposed to domestic. I have a feeling that will be the most FAQ. We did first consider domestic - I mean, my brother and I were both adopted here. We looked into it, and, in the state we are in, there are 3 ways to go about it. First, is through a private identified adoption, second is through the state, and third is through an agency. Well, we've not learned of any birthmoms desiring to place their child for adoption. Then, the adoptions through my state are generally of much older and special needs kids - an area that we've not entirely considered entering.
Going the agency route had some extreme uncertainties. It is a very costly process ($20,000-$40,000). The costs are high for the agency itself, lawyers, etc. and you also pay for medical, living, clothing, food, etc. expenses for the birth mother. I'm not saying it is unreasonable to pay any of this, but if the birth mother later changes her mind, which is completely her right, those costs are gone. I've heard of many cases of people spending thousands and then, when the adoption falls through, facing the disappointment of the loss and then taking on the expenses of the next potential birth mother.
That leads me to the main reason we decided against domestic adoption. It is lack of control of the outcome of the whole process. First, the birth mother is the main decider when it comes to which parents will be candidates for the child. The agencies put together booklets and profiles of the adopting parents and the birth mothers flip through them and decide. A couple could be chosen immediately, or be left in the book for quite some time before being selected. Then, once selected, there is major uncertainty that the adoption will actually go through. It is an absolute law (and I am not saying that I disagree with it) that birthparents have the right to NOT relinquish parental rights following birth. I think it depends upon the state as to how many days they have. I can't tell you how many people I've met that have had one, two, or more failed adoptions. What loss and grief these people have to go through! I don't know that I have the heart to go through that. Infertility is bad enough.
So - we looked into international adoption. It is international law that the children must be considered orphans to be adopted internationally. That means that the parental rights have already been severed and the chance of a legal challenge is slim to none. There is a certainty that the process will end in a child being placed with us giving much more peace of mind.
Once we decided on international adoption, the major task was choosing the country. Believe me, I've researched them all. I guess it was a good geography lesson. First we looked seriously into China and Guatemala, then Russia and the Ukraine, then even Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Vietnam, Nepal...you name it. They all have their own procedures and each has their pluses and minuses.
When I first discovered that Poland permitted international adoptions, it was obvious that it would be my first choice. With the family connection it felt sooooo right. Then, I looked into it further. The costs were high, it required 2 trips, there was some discrepency concerning the ages of the children avalable and only a few agencies work in Poland. So...we went back to considering all of the other countries.
To make a long story short (I know, I know, there is nothing "short" about this post), we just kept going back to Poland. We would say, well...we would still do Poland if it were not for the 2 trips, or if it cost less...or whatever. Then I think we finally said who cares if it is tough! We considered the whole process, evaluated our finances and decided to go with it!
And we are so happy we did. Now, through the process, we will learn more about the people and culture of Poland. Then, for the rest of our lives, it will be our culture as well.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
And we're off. Today we put our application in the mail. We are officially adopting from Poland! After battles with infertility, we have committed to becoming parents the long distance way. Pushing disappointments aside with great fervor, we have determined that there is a child out there who needs a good home. And a good home we've got!
Through my research I've relied on others' blogs. I enjoy the stories, pictures, and experiences and I have learned so much from those who have traveled this road before us. Because of this, and for therapeutic reasons, I decided I must keep a blog myself. Besides, isn't the journey to a child a great thing to document? It can also be a good way to keep our family and friends in the loop.
So I start the blog today, the day we sent in our application to the adoption agency. I could have started it a year ago, or more, when we began our research and search. But today seems very appropriate. It is like the beginning of a race, the day you find out you are pregnant, or the day you win the lottery. It is today that the process begins, and today is the day that we can genuinely begin to be excited about what lies ahead.
Today is truly an out of the ordinary day. Not only because we mailed the application in - we have been working on that for some time and had it notarized yesterday for sending in today. I went to the doctor today, and it looks like I very well may have had a miscarriage. Or rather, that I may effectively be having one now. I'll spare the details, except to say that I've had a very long and disconcerting period, which is still not gone.
To make a long story short, the fertility doctor gave me birth control. Yes - the doctor who was trying to help me get pregnant, gave me birth control to help get my cycle back on track. Funny. Normally I would have taken the diagnosis and prescription, walked out the door to my car, closed the door and start crying immediately. But today was different. I have this peace about my female plumbing issues that I didn't have before. My issues may or may not resolve, but in the meantime, I'm OK with it all.
To top today off, I had my favorite tomato soup for lunch and a great latte. Better than that, I have the most amazing bouquet of flowers on my desk! They are a thank you from Tessa, with whom I work. They were totally a surprise and out of the blue - but I'll say, she couldn't have picked a better day! They are extremely georgrous and fragrant. All of the gals on the floor are jealous and curious.
There is much more I could write about. Specifics about the adoption process, details about fertility issues, thoughts about motherhood, etc. But this is enough for today. After all, it is only day 1.
I will say that I am very blessed. Blessed that I have a completely compatible husband with the same priorities as me and the warmest hugs in the world. Blessed that my parents and brother are always there to support me and us, and love us. Blessed that Ryan's family is so warm and open and loving. Blessed that I have old and new friends to confide in and be a confidant to. Beyond that are a million other things I am thankful for...I'm sure I'll get to a few of them.
But for now, we are off on our journey to be parents to a child that waits 5150 miles away (give or take) in an orphanage in Poland. More later...