Friday, March 30, 2007

The Ball Is Rolling

We had our first homestudy meeting yesterday. We met with a social worker/therapist at her office for a little over an hour. We went over a lot of the paperwork for the homestudy including their application, background check forms, releases of information, etc. Then it was basically a session questioning us about what drove us to adoption, how we are dealing with infertility, what we are doing to prepare ourselves, etc. They are all pretty much things we've talked about together and are really on the same page about. I was worried that she would get deeper into specific parenting issues that we will have no idea how to respond to! But she didn't go there, yet.

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?

Right now we have a list of everything we need to do for completion of the dossier (dossier being our whole packet of info sent to Poland). Sometimes I look at it and think it will be virtually impossible. Then, somedays I think we've got it all under control! Today, I think we have it relatively under control…but we can only do so much at a time.

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


OK... I'm providing some responses to frequently asked questions. I'm sure this list will grow!

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

SNL - Comedy Sketch

Here's a funny little Saturday Night Live sketch for your viewing pleasure. I really wanted to post a clip from the comedy series, The Office, where Michael Scott talks to Pam about adopting from China. If anyone comes across it, send it my way!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Cat is out of the Bag

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

Home Study

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!