Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I realized it's been awhile since I've posted, but there's just not much going on in regards to the adoption. There is, as usual, lots going on not related to the adoption. We had a momentary glimpse of parenthood a few weeks ago, when we were offered the opportunity to pursue a domestic adoption. If it had worked out, we would have become parents within the week the opportunity presented itself. However, for reasons I am not going to go into here, it did not work out. We prayed long and hard about this decision, and requested prayer from others, for clarity and wisdom about pursuing this. It was made very clear to us that this was not what God had planned to build our family.

Our pastor spoke a few weeks ago about the things that distract us from the journey God has for us. There have been numerous times during the adoption process when we have been presented with other options to build our family. I always wondered why God would show these to us and then take them away. I no longer believe that. I believe that these other opportunities are distractions, meant to guide us away from what God truly has planned for us if we are willing to wait on His timing. When we pray and truly seek His guidance for our decision-making, every opportunity has fallen through, and not once have we felt grief or distress from that, only "peace which surpasses all understanding"(Philippians 4:7). It is hard to wait, but we will continue to seek God's will for our family and hope that we will build our family before we are Sarai and Abram's age. ;)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Photos of the beds

From beginning to end...

1. Here is the beginning of the beds after the wood was cut and planed, thanks to a friend of ours who let us use his basement woodworking shop for a day! Also, a special thanks goes out to Kris and James for the use of their garage!!
2. A footboard beginning to take shape:
3. A partially completed footboard (missing the posts and the top piece):
4. A mostly completed headboard (only missing the top piece):
5. A view of the headboard on one of the completed beds, showing the routed and angled edges (and Tigger!):
6. As complete a picture of the bed as I can get:
A couple of things to note: Yes, the headboard really is that big. That's because we designed the beds so that when they are bunked WE can sit on the bottom bunk (to read stories, take temperatures, etc.) without bashing our heads. Also, when the kids are older, we can switch out the youth mattress with a box spring and mattress, at which point it will be nice to have the larger headboard. If we do that the mattress will come up to the top of the footboard (same as our current bed). So what do you think?? ;)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Not submitting just yet

After much discussion and prayer, we are not yet requesting to submit our dossier. As it happens, it appears the NAC is interpreting their current dossier submission guidelines pretty strictly, which is fine. Except that we really want to adopt siblings, and it seems that the current policy is that if we were to find an "invalid orphan" (their words), if their sibling does not also fall under the current list (over 10 or invalid in our case) we could not adopt them. We feel strongly that we are to prepare for two children, and we do not feel that submission of our dossier is what we need to be doing right now. So we continue to wait... ;)

In the meantime, however, we have finished our big, secretive project for our children. We have made twin beds! Yes, completely from scratch (well, we didn't go out and cut down the trees...). We modeled the beds after our bed, so for those of you who have seen our bed picture it as a twin. The great thing about making our beds was we were able to design them the way we wanted! So, here are some great characteristics of our kids' beds: 1. They can be bunked by putting both of the headboards on one bed (bottom), both of the footboards on the other (top). 2. They are designed so that we can actually sit on the bottom bunk and read our child a story, take their temperature, etc., without bumping our heads! 3. We are able to put in and take out side rails on both sides of each bed. 4. These are probably the sturdiest twin beds you've ever seen. 5. They're beautiful (yes, I'm biased). 6. They cost unbelieveably less to make than to buy.

The beds are made of untreated pine finished with a clear lightweight polyurethane for ease in cleaning. All of the edges are routed, meaning they are all rounded so there are no sharp edges on the boards. I'm hoping to post pictures soon, so everyone else can see how beautiful they are!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


My profound apologies to those of you who are faithfully checking this only to see the same post every time. As it happens, we have had some news to share for a while, we've just been really busy! To back up a bit...

The good news is that Ukraine reopened to adoptions from Spain. Spain was also on the list of countries who were no longer allowed to submit dossiers due to not submitting their post-placement reports. However, they got everything in order and Ukraine began accepting new dossiers from Spain a few weeks ago. This was a great encouragement to us as it means that once the US starts turning in those missing post-placement reports, Ukraine might open up for us too!

The bad news is that we received some information (verified by multiple sources) that the first of the year is not looking so great for adoptions. The NAC is currently* planning on reserving January and February for families who went to adopt this year and were unable to find a child. Families who are registered with the NAC and currently waiting for an appointment (there are many) will be scheduled in March and beyond. This includes nearly everyone who submitted a dossier from June/July through September. This is bad news for us since our dossier isn't even submitted, so we do not fall under the category of "waiting for an appointment". That makes us believe that it could be summer or fall before we actually travel. On the plus side, we will have lots of time to save up money for the extra expenses of children! ;)

*Note that everything contained herein which relates to future events is subject to change at a moments notice!! :)

More good news (just came through yesterday but only confirmed through one source)...the NAC has reopened for dossier submission for families in 3 categories:
1. families wishing to adopt siblings of children they have already adopted
2. families wishing to adopt children 10 years old and older
3. families wishing to adopt orphans considered to be invalid

Many of you may know our hearts and our desire as to the type of children we adopt. We are looking to adopt 2 children (siblings) who are close in age (preferably twins). What you may not know is that we are open to a number of medical conditions, which may allow us to fall into category 3 for dossier submission. We are waiting to hear from our facilitator as to whether we would need to submit a letter stating our desire to adopt children with a medical condition in order for our dossier to be submitted. Due to our backgrounds working with children, and a significant number of special needs children, we feel that God has prepared us to parent children that many other people would not adopt.

Please keep us and our children in your prayers. My heart aches daily for them, especially knowing it may still be a long time before we find them. We continue to pray that God would keep them warm and healthy and that He would give them a caretaker to bond with until we can reach them.

We have so much to be thankful for, and so many blessings that God has provided. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may you see the blessings in your life as well!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Word from the embassy

I am posting here a copy of an open letter the U.S. Embassy just sent out to the adoption community (below it is the original letter regarding the shutdown of Ukraine adoptions). When we adopt from Ukraine, we are required to file yearly post-placement reports on our children. This is a simple, one-page form that requires little time to complete. We sign a statement that goes in our dossier stating that we will do this every year. Ukraine is not requiring these simply to make more paperwork or to make life more difficult for adoptive parents. This allows them to know that their children are safe and secure after the adoption, and helps prevent issues associated with adoption of children for improper reasons (selling the children into slavery, prostitution, etc.). While we may scoff at the idea that anyone would go through all of the adoption proceedings just to "use" a child, it has happened in the past and that is what the post-placement reports are designed to inhibit. If you have adopted from Ukraine, please submit your post-placement reports if you have not done so. If you know of someone who has adopted from Ukraine, please make them aware of this situation and ask them if they have filed their post-placement reports. The NAC is missing reports on over 1000 children adopted into the US within the last 7 years. Please help them know that their children are going to good homes with loving parents, and help open Ukraine again for adoptions!

Dear Members of the American Adoption Community Interested in Ukraine:

As we reported earlier and most of you know, on September 19, 2005 the National Adoption Center (NAC) of Ukraine suspended the acceptance of new adoption dossiers from U.S. citizens and citizens of several other countries. The NAC explained that this decision was based in large part on past non-compliance of some families with post-adoption reporting requirements, which are mandated by Ukrainian law. The U.S. Government has made numerous representations at many levels to the Government of Ukraine on this subject. On November 1, 2005 Embassy representatives met again with the NAC Director. The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Minister for Family, Youth and Sports and diplomats from other Embassies in Ukraine that have been affected by this suspension. At this meeting the NAC provided updated information on the numbers of missing post-adoption reports. According to NAC statistics, to date there are 598 missing reports on Ukrainian children adopted by Americans through intercountry adoption between 1997 and 2003. In addition, the NAC has not yet received reports/registration for 495 children adopted by American citizens in 2004. We are repeating below an appeal from the Embassy of Ukraine, which we emailed to this list earlier. The Department of State strongly encourages parents to comply with post-adoption reporting requirements(<http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/info/info_2192.html>). Thank you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any additional questions.

Adoption Unit/Immigrant Visa Section
Consular Section
American Embassy
Kyiv, Ukraine
Tel: 38-044-4904422
Fax: 38-044-490-4570
In accordance with E.O. 12958 this message is not classified.

The Embassy of Ukraine to the USA
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, October 11, 2005
WASHINGTON - Starting September 19, 2005, the Children Adoption Center of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine suspended the acceptance of new adoption dossiers from US citizens. According to the Children Adoption Center, the decision to stop accepting certain dossiers was based mainly on the past non-compliance of some families with post-adoption reports, which are required by the Ukrainian law. According to the Children Adoption Center, the new procedures do not affect dossiers that have already been accepted, unless the prospective adopting parents have failed to register and provide reports about the previously adopted Ukrainian children. As the United States is the country whose citizens adopt the largest number of the Ukrainian children, the Government of Ukraine is deeply concerned with the fate of hundreds of the adopted children we have no information about. Taking into consideration the above-mentioned the Embassy of Ukraine to the USA kindly requests your cooperation in two matters. FIRST, we need cooperation in promoting the registration of Ukrainian children adopted by US citizens and SECOND, in providing the Consulates of Ukraine with post-placement reports from American adoptive parents whom you may have contact with regards to this issue. The Embassy of Ukraine is obliged to act in accordance with the Ukrainian law which states that the Embassy shall supervise the registration of the adopted children and maintain the database of the post-placement reports about them. Registering your child allows the adopted child to be added onto the list of Ukrainian citizens residing in the United States. Please be advised that in accordance with the Ukrainian law, the adoptive parents signed an agreement with the Government of Ukraine to:[1] maintain the Ukrainian citizenship of the adopted child until the age of eighteen,[2] to register the child with the appropriate diplomatic mission of Ukraine, as well as [3] to submit to the diplomatic mission periodical reports about the child's well-being and[4] to allow the representatives of the diplomatic mission to contact the child directly. It is especially important for the Ukrainian Government to know where the adopted Ukrainian children have been placed and how they are progressing in the United States. Through regular reports, the Ukrainian Government is informed of the children's development with their adoptive parents. The Embassy of Ukraine thanks all American families that provide us with information about the progress of their Ukrainian children. We really appreciate it. The Embassy of Ukraine kindly asks those who forgot or refused to provide us with this information to do so as soon as possible. Please send the reports along with pictures of your children so that we may follow their development throughout the years. Please understand that your neglect to inform the Ukrainian authorities about your adopted children blocks the process of the Ukrainian orphan children adoption by American families. For your convenience, information on the consular registration of Ukrainianadopted children is available online at http://www.ukraineinfo.us/consular/adoption-registration.html. A sample of the post placement report is available online at http://www.ukraineinfo.us/consular/adoption-report.html. To facilitate communication, the reports can be forwarded via e-mail to: adoption@ukremb.com or can be sent by mail to the Consular Office ofThe Embassy of Ukraine at 3350 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. If you have any contact with adoptive parents, organizations, agencies or persons who may benefit from this information, the Embassy of Ukraine kindly asks you to pass this information along so that everyone may become well informed. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Consular Office ofthe Embassy of Ukraine via fax at (202) 333-7510 or by email address at adoption@ukremb.com. The Embassy of Ukraine appreciates any assistance in compiling this information because this in turn will help keep the adoption process open for the American families.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In Ukraine

Our dossier has been delivered to our facilitator in Ukraine! Thanks for your many prayers! Not only has it arrived, but it has been looked over by our facilitator and they did not find any immediate errors or omissions. In fact, they said we did a good job getting all of our documents together! :) They will let us know if they turn up any problems as they go through the translations.

It sounds silly to be so excited over our documents being "okay", but there really are a lot of documents and they are supposed to be done the way the NAC wants them done. Exactly. Word for word. It's not difficult, just time-consuming and mind-boggling trying to keep track of all the details, and trying to get others to pay attention to the details. We felt bad being so picky with wording on employment letters and medical forms, but to us it's better to have us be picky once than for us to come back over and over again trying to get it right!

Prayer requests for the day: at last count, 350 children in Ukraine have fallen ill due to a bacteria in kefir, which is a dairy product (sort of like thin sour cream or yogurt). From what we understand, this includes some children in the orphanages. Not only are they ill, but there is no one to hold them and cuddle them when they are so sick (4 of the children were in critical condition in the hospital). Please pray that volunteers would step up to help love these children and care for them as they are ill. Please pray that God would help them know how much He loves them, and how He has not forgotten a single one. Please also continue to pray for our paperwork, that it would be easy to translate and without problems.

Let the translations commence!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ready, set, ship!

I had intended to post in the past couple of days, as we have shipped our dossier to Ukraine! We sent our documents FedEx to Gorlovka, Ukraine, where our facilitator is located. He will translate the documents and be responsible for getting them to the NAC.

It's a bit expensive to ship documents overseas! We've never sent anything overseas (sorry, Lee, Ryan, and Kyle!) so we weren't familiar with the process, but the FedEx guy we worked with was wonderful. He explained everything in detail and told us exactly what to put on the forms. There are people who have had their documents held up in customs in Ukraine, because they listed the value of the package as $100 or more, thinking that that is somewhat close to what it would cost to replace the documents (in reality, it would probably be more!). However, when the documents get to customs, the customs agents have a hard time believing that paper only is worth $100, and are very suspicious of what's in the package. Our FedEx guy said to write "adoption/legal documents" for the items contained and to list the value as "NCV"--no commercial value.

I can now state that I have been following our package online using our tracking number. It went to Paris, France, and is now in Kiev, Ukraine, and appears to have passed customs! Gorlovka is outside of the normal delivery area for FedEx in Ukraine so it cost us over $100 to ship there. Please pray that all of our documents will be sufficient and that we won't have to ship anything else! :)

If you would like to see some of the places we have talked about and will visit, here is a nice map of Ukraine. Gorlovka is in the Donets'k region on the southwestern side of Ukraine--it is written on the map as Horlivka.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Wallpaper and paint

Yesterday we picked up our special order wallpaper and taped a few inches to the wall in the kids' bedroom. We're having a hard time deciding on paint colors. If we match the border, the paint will be pretty dark, so we've taped up paint color chips to the wall above and below the border to help us decide. We'd like to get it painted soon--while we can still have the windows open while we paint!

We have finished all of our documents--apostilles and all--and will be shipping them on Monday. We've also scanned all of them in, so we can send them to our facilitator and he can start working on the translations. You can pray for our facilitator and his job translating...our home study alone is 6 pages of pure text! Add into that letters from the government, doctors, and employers, and you begin to realize what a monumental task it is to translate all of this. Everything that is translated also has to be notarized in Ukraine, which our facilitator will take and have done after he has translated everything. Only then can it be submitted to the NAC (when they reopen).

The NAC has closed and reopened before, and probably will in the future as well. We are not in the least bit worried and will wait it out as long as we need to. It is very common for countries to shut down international adoptions for short times due to different situations. China was shut down for a few months last year with the bird flu and SARS. Ukraine was shut down when they had their most recent presidential elections and all of the turmoil that went with them. The worst that can happen is we will need to redo some documents and send them over. The most expensive part of our documents (our homestudy) will only need to be updated if it expires and there will be a nominal fee to do that.

Thanks to all of you for sharing in our long journey and showering us with your prayers. We know they have made a difference in our outlook on everything that has happened and will happen. We will all learn patience together! :)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Sad news

It is sad, although not permanently sad. Ukraine has closed for international adoptions. We have no word at this point as to when they will reopen. Adoptive parents with dossiers already submitted will be allowed to complete their adoption, but the NAC is not accepting any new dossiers (such as ours!).

We got our apostilles on Friday; however, three of our documents were missing our notary's stamp, so they need to be stamped and resubmitted. We had ~30 documents notarized at once, so I'm not surprised a few got missed! :) We'll get those apostilled the beginning of this next week and then send our dossier on to our facilitator in Ukraine. But why? Isn't Ukraine closed? *grin* Yes, it is closed. But by the time our documents get there, and get translated, it could be open again! Who knows? So we will send everything and trust that God will get all of it to the NAC at just the right time.

For those who are interested, here is a list of documents included in our dossier (if you're not interested, skip this and the next paragraph):
Petition for adoption
Letter of obligation
Certification of INS approval letter
Color copies of each of our passports
Copy of our marriage license
State background checks for each of us
Employment letters for each of us
Medical forms for each of us
Copies of the medical licenses of the doctors who did our physicals
Home study
Copy of our social worker's child placing license
Copy of our social worker's clinical social worker license
Power of attorneys for each of our facilitators in Ukraine

All of the above are either notarized or are certified documents, and all of them must be apostilled. It was 40 documents that we had apostilled (thank you to Missouri for having a $100 cap on adoption apostilles--it is $10 per document normally)! But, that's also because we are putting together two complete dossiers--we will send one to Ukraine and take the other with us when we travel. Recently, it has not been necessary to have a second dossier when adopting two children, but we would rather be prepared. :)

We purchased wallpaper border for the kids' room today. We have chosen to decorate, although we were hesitant at first! We have chosen a moon and stars theme, because the moon and the stars are constant wherever you go around the world. We will be taking fleece blankets with the moon and a couple of stars on them when we go to Ukraine, and we can show our kids the moon and stars in Ukraine and then when we get home as well. We're hoping this will give them some point of consistency when everything is so new and different. :) Our decorating will still be very moderate--nothing on the walls, very little in the room--for at least a little while after we return home.

We will do our best to keep you posted as we have more information. Please keep us but more importantly our children in your prayers.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Yes, I know, excellent English for my title. :) We now have our social worker's license and all of our documents! They will all get notarized tomorrow evening, and Mark will be taking them downtown for the infamous apostilling on either Wednesday or Friday. What does this mean, you ask? Our documents will be heading to Ukraine this week!! Thus, our "woohoo" as a title. It will be even a bigger "woohoo" when they're actually sent off. ;)

We have switched facilitators. This really is a matter of little consequence in the big scheme of things, but we have been praying about this a lot and feel very comfortable with our decision. Oftentimes, adoptive parents switch facilitators because they've been swindled in some way, and they are now out some money with no child in sight. This is most definitely NOT the case for us. We were very happy with our previous facilitators, but due to some circumstances they were not able to assist us at this point in time. Our new facilitator is a Christian man located in Ukraine who comes VERY highly recommended from numerous adoptive families. Our cost should end up being very similar (possibly even cheaper!).

Thanks for all of your prayers!! We will post again when all of our documents have been sent. :)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Busy times!

Unfortunately, not busy due to our adoption! :) School has started again for Mark and we have been very busy with life in general. So, as an update...

Texas once again was the master of speed with our apostilled and certified marriage license! We had expected to receive it last Friday (Sept 2) at the very earliest. We received it last Wednesday (Aug 31), and that was after it was delivered to the wrong address and then redelivered to us! Those Texas folks are amazing. So where are we at now? Well, the social worker who did our home study is licensed in the state of Missouri, but her license expires at the end of September. She is waiting for her renewal license, and we are waiting as well. If we send our dossier to Ukraine now, by the time everything is translated and submitted they would reject our dossier (and send it all back) because one document is expired. So we need to wait until we have a copy of her new license (notarized, of course!) before we can finish up. Once we have that, we will take all of our documents to downtown and have everything apostilled at once. Missouri has a cap on apostilles for international adoptions. Normally it costs $10 per document for apostilles, which can get pretty pricy! But for adoptions, Missouri has a limit of $100 for apostilles, even for multiple children (as long as they are being adopted at the same time). This means we want to take all of our documents at once, so we can only pay the fee once.

Please pray that our SW would get her license soon, and get it to us! Please also pray for the many children recently orphaned by the hurricane. Pray that they would find relatives and/or homes quickly.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Overwhelming humility

There were a couple of things we needed to finish up from Mark's physical. They discovered after we had done all of the lab work that he also needed a syphilis test (according to our official form) and did that at the end of the physical (grand total--Mark: 2 physicals, 2 HIV tests, 2 drug screens, 2 TB tests, 1 syphilis test; Courtney: 3 physicals, 1 HIV test, 3 drug screens, 2 TB tests, 1 syphilis test--everything negative...repeatedly :) ). The results take a few days to come in, so we needed to go back and get the form signed off for that. We also needed a copy of the doctor's medical license, which she did not have with her at the clinic (she works at several clinics around the city so she keeps her license at home--very understandable).

Of course, everything again needs to be notarized. The day went crazy, and by the time we made it to the doctor's office, we had the forms we needed for them but no notary. We prayed that it would all work out, because there was nothing we could do. We got there, and wonderful W. (who recognized us--it's the third time we've been in in 2 weeks) greeted us and called back to the notary to find out that she had received her stamp!! We got all of our paperwork done and notarized without a hitch. Once again, the ladies at BarnesCare have been phenomenal. A very special thanks to W., R., and Dr. L. for their patience and desire to help!

The title of the post refers to the way I felt when all of this happened. God is completely meeting our needs every step of the way, and it never ceases to amaze me. Every time I get worked up over some little detail, He comes through in ways that defy understanding. I know there are many people who believe in coincidences, but the things we have experienced--the meeting of our needs, big and small--go way beyond coincidence. We can see God working in our lives in ways we never dreamed possible. I pray that you will see this in your life as well, for it is an amazing and humbling experience to know that the creator of the universe has you in His heart and mind every minute of every day.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

To the Lone Star State

Yesterday we sent off our documents for a certified copy of our marriage license from Texas. This was actually a much bigger logistical work than you would think! *laugh* We were married in Fort Worth, Texas, and so must request a certified copy of our marriage license from Tarrant County. But in order to get our marriage license apostilled, it must go to Austin. We had two options for how to do this: 1. We could request our certified marriage license, receive it here, and then turn around and send it to Austin, or 2. We could send our request for our marriage license with a request that they send it on to Austin, who would then send it on to us. Hoping to cut down on time and after calling and verifying that Tarrant County would do this, we sent an envelope inside an envelope inside an envelope to Texas yesterday. Each request required its own letter/form and a money order, so hopefully we got the right documents in the right envelopes! Please pray that our request would get to Texas in a reasonable amount of time and that it would make it from Ft. Worth to Austin to us with everything done correctly. Texas was fantastic about getting our certified copies of our marriage license to us for our home study, so we don't anticipate any problems, but extra prayer is always welcome!

And on the note of irony, Courtney had to get a physical for work yesterday. This is her third physical since February! You'd think people could just look at the previous one and see that she is healthy, but each one requires something slightly different. Amazing the amount of paperwork one person has generated with getting so many physicals!

Monday, August 15, 2005


Welcome to our many new readers, as we have recently sent out some emails letting more people know we are adopting. :) Please feel free to email us if you have questions, but try to read at least the FAQ's here on the blog first. ;)

It's been a busy couple of weeks! As many of you have probably noticed, we are not sharing much about what is happening in our personal lives. There are a number of reasons for this, and we would like to keep this blog focused on our adoption process as much as possible. Although you will occasionally gain insights into our lives from the posts, there will generally not be intentional posts about our lives outside of the adoption. That said, we have been so busy and things are going really well!

We have completed a project for our children. We are not posting the nature of the project until we can post pictures (which should be later this week), mainly because no one will believe us until they see it! :) Mark had his physical this past week--whew, what an ordeal. That is absolutely our least favorite part of the adoption process--the medical exams. We can be fingerprinted 20 times and it would be better than having to redo medicals! There are a number of tests that have to be done, and forms that must be filled out in a specific way. The notary's license at his doctor's office had expired last week, so we had to bring in our own notary. The notary we brought was a woman Mark works with and she was so generous to come in on her day OFF and notarize for us! Thank you, L.! We still have to go back on Tuesday and get a copy of the doctor's license. The ladies at the doctor's office have been so helpful in trying to understand what we need and how the need to do it. I certainly hope we have gotten everything medical filled out correctly and that we don't have to do these again!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A time for praise

We have our 171-H! We have actually known that we were approved since last Wednesday, when we called to find out our status. However, we were hesitant in posting until we actually had the papers in our hands. :) We have officially been approved by the US Government to adopt 2 children internationally. So what's next??

A mad scramble to get together lots of paperwork! We are being fingerprinted today to have our state background check done (again). Our first ones were done in February, and there is a good chance they would expire before we travel. If anything expires before the adoption is complete, you cannot complete the adoption, so we have to make sure that we have as long as possible on all of our paperwork. This is why our facilitators didn't want us to get any of our dossier paperwork put together until we had our 171-H. So we will be fingerprinted today, and Missouri has changed their procedures, so we will NOT have to drive to Jefferson City! :) We will have fingerprints done here and they will be sent to the state records division electronically. They will then send our background check to us within 5 business days. This is a big improvement over how the process used to work. Mark needs to get his physical done, Courtney needs to pick up copies of her doctor's license from her physical, we both need to get employment letters, and get a certified copy of our marriage license. Then our paperwork (including documents not mentioned here that just involve our request to adopt) will all be notarized and apostilled and we will send it (our dossier) to Ukraine!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Answered prayers

Praise God, who answers our prayers about even the smallest things!!

On Sunday, we sent an email to the organization (New Song) sending our "parent tool box", letting them know we had not received the one they sent. On Monday, it arrived!! It was postmarked June 21, and why it took so long we'll never know. We promptly called New Song and let them know it had arrived and not to send another! Now we have 6.5 hours of DVDs to watch and paperwork to fill in as we go. Then we will send them a notarized statement that we have completed the course, and they will send us a completion certificate. Hooray!

Also, we are very grateful that we found comforters this past weekend! We had initially decided to wait until the back-to-school sales to buy comforters, and the sales have started. We found reversible comforters, machine wash and dry (very important to Courtney!), in neutral colors on sale, and we had two coupons!! We were able to get two twin comforters for less than the price of one normally. Yet another hooray!

We have heard some "complaints" ;) that our children are going to be very bored with our current color scheme. Well, there are two issues at work here. One is that we have no idea what gender of children we will have. The other is that it is usually very easy to overstimulate these children. In the orphanages, they do have toys, but they are not toys that make noise and flash lights, etc. The walls are usually painted a neutral color, with few pictures or hangings on the walls. We will be starting with a very simple room and toys for our children, and gradually introducing them to more stimulation. We want this transition to be as easy on our children as possible. They are being moved from the only home they've ever known and transported to a new place with none of their friends or familiar caretakers, and everyone speaks a different language. That's usually a trying situation for adults who know and can understand what's happening, much less small children whose world has just been turned upside down.

I had to include a picture of my most adorable husband playing base ball. This was taken last weekend at one of his games in Illinois, when the Perfectos played the Ground Squirrels and the Marauders.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I apologize for the delay in posting. We have been waiting to hear back on our I-600A, which is our approval to adopt from the INS. Since it has been over a month (June 8) since we were fingerprinted (and they had said it should be done within a month), we called yesterday to see if we could find out what's going on. It turns out that our adjudicator (the person who decides on our case) went on an extended leave, and on July 8(!) our case was transferred to another judge. This judge will have 30-60 days to decide on our I-600A. Basically, it means we're still waiting. I know many of you are anxious to get this process moving, as are we! We'll try to keep you posted as we know what's happening.

On the note of delays, we are required to take parenting classes through the Hague Convention (see an earlier post for explanation of the HC). These can be done in person or by video, but we need a certificate to take with us when we travel that says we have completed our classes. Our facilitators require us to use a group out of Kentucky for our parenting classes. They offer classes during the week and also a "parent tool box" that can be viewed and completed in your home. Since we can't travel to Louisville a few times a week, we had sent them a check to send us a parent tool box. Lo and behold, 4 weeks later, still no tool box. We called this past weekend and it turns out they shipped it 3 weeks ago! We have had a number of postal issues since moving to MO, so it's not a huge surprise that it's not here yet--or has vanished completely. We're waiting out the week to see if it shows up, then another will be shipped, which hopefully will make it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Quiet before the storm (of paperwork gathering)

We are in our second to last waiting period, sort of. We are still waiting for our 171-H, which is our approval from the US govt. to bring an adopted child into the US. We are hoping to get that this week. Courtney had her second physical and has now been tested for just about every communicable disease known to man (negative on all, of course!). Everything looks normal and healthy. :)

Mark has started playing vintage base ball, which is base ball played with the rules from the 1860's (and yes, it is "base ball", not "baseball"). You would think that with all of the sports he plays, he would want to have little boys, but he is hoping for girls. Courtney, on the other hand, would love to have some rambunctious boys running through the house. Of course, we will be happy with whatever gender our children are, and we grow more excited daily at the prospect of meeting them and bringing them home. Although it seems like the process takes a long time, we are all too aware that in a few short months we will be returning home from Ukraine. No, we don't have a travel date yet, but we are still anticipating traveling in December. Spending Christmas and New Year's in Ukraine would be a wonderful experience, and spending it together as a new family would be even better!

I mentioned that we are in our second-to-last waiting period. From here on out, we will have a flurry of activity as soon as we get out 171-H. We will be gathering paperwork and putting our dossier together to send to Ukraine. Once there, it will be translated and submitted to the NAC. After (hopefully) a short wait, we will be registered with the NAC and will then have the last waiting period, in which we are waiting to travel!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Good news for Ukraine

We're not sure yet if it's good news for us. ;) In an effort to redesign their adoption process and how orphans are registered and provided for by the government, Ukraine will be temporarily shutting down international adoptions. This is only expected to last a couple of months, and there is no word yet as to when it will actually begin. Adoptive parents who have already submitted a dossier will proceed as usual with the adoption process, but at some time in the near future the NAC will stop accepting dossiers (just temporarily) from international prospective adoptive parents.

In some ways, this is really good. The new president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, is very pro-child, and is trying to improve the process to help more children be adopted. Hopefully this will help streamline the process and make things even better! However, we don't know exactly what's going to change. Our facilitators have advised us to continue putting our dossier together. It is possible that we would be able to submit our dossier before the temporary closing. Or that we would submit after they re-open, and still be able to travel in December. There is also, however, a possibility that the restructuring will change the required documents necessary to adopt. This would not be a huge setback--we would simply need to gather whatever new documents are needed and send them to Ukraine. Point being, we had a psuedo-timeline before, now we really have none. :) We will keep gathering documents and put our dossier together until we hear otherwise, and we'll keep you posted as we know more.

Please pray for peace about this situation, and a knowledge that God will send us to Ukraine when our children are ready for us.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Fingerprints...but no messy fingers!

Last Wednesday we were fingerprinted at the INS office in downtown St. Louis. Our fingerprints will be run through the FBI database which will check for any convictions, arrests, etc. It is still possible to adopt with certain things on your record, but it can make life very difficult, and some countries are more willing to take adoptive parents with a criminal background than others. Thankfully neither of us have any criminal background of any kind!

The fingerprint scanner is really cool. For those of you who have a chance to do biometric fingerprint scans, it's great! No ink, so your fingers don't get messy, and the computer helps the INS staff make sure they get a good fingerprint. After your fingerprint is scanned, the computer program points out "problem" areas, such as areas that are too light, too dark, ridges that don't connect, etc. Thus, it will also highlight things like scars. When the program catches a problem area, the INS staff can choose to override the computer and accept the fingerprint, or retake it.

We are hoping to hear back on our application in the next 2-3 weeks. This is still just our US approval to bring an adopted child or children into the US. After our FBI check, our I-600A application will be sent to an adjudicator who will decide whether or not to approve us for international adoption. Please pray for a favorable, quick response (the favorable part is more important than the quick part!).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On being a parent

In researching adoption and post-adoption parenting, we've done a lot of looking at websites, talking to people who've adopted (that we know personally and that we've only met over the internet), and reading of various books. We are also required to take an adoption "class" of sorts, that discusses a lot of the issues associated with adoptive parenting. It is true that parenting is parenting, but there are some additional things to consider with adopted children, including how you respond to people asking about the adoption. Many children like to be the ones to tell people (or not) that they are adopted. There was an interesting point in one of the books we have, talking about discussing adoption with children when they ask. The question usually comes up of "Why was I adopted?" Oftentimes, the parent will respond with something along the lines of "your birthparents couldn't take care of you and they loved you so much they gave you up for adoption". In and of itself, it seems like a harmless and valid answer, but the authors point out that this presents a serious problem for adoptive children. Children think very literally, and very simply. Thus, you can follow the child-like logic....my birthparents loved me so they gave me up for adoption...my adoptive parents love me too, so will they give me up for adoption? Interesting food for thought.

We had a discussion in our women's group the other night talking with a mother about the 2-year-old they recently adopted from China. We were discussing the fact that none of us recognize her as their "adopted daughter"--she is their "daughter who was adopted". Do you see the difference? She has always been their daughter. They just had to go someplace else to find her and bring her home. This is how I feel about our children. They are in my heart, and my thoughts. We haven't even seen them yet, but they are already part of our lives as we prepare for them to join us. I don't think I will ever think of our children as our "adopted children". They will always be simply our children, and we just had to go a little further to bring them home.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

FBI, here we come...

We are once again so impressed by the St. Louis INS office! Our HS was turned in last Friday around 11am, and in the Tuesday mail was our fingerprinting appointment! Our official appointment is Friday, June 1, but we are unable to go then, so we will be fingerprinted first thing in the morning on Wednesday, June 8. If the St. Louis INS office keeps up this pace, we'll be in Ukraine before the end of the summer! (that's mostly a joke--we're still planning on traveling in December, for a number of reasons, including our schedules, availability of appointments at the NAC, and flight options...don't want to scare anyone. ;) )

We have been making progress on turning our second bedroom into a second bedroom. I realize that statement only makes sense if you have seen the second bedroom, which has been a mess for quite a while. Originally it was the office, and so we have had to move the filing cabinet and computer into our bedroom. Somehow it didn't seem like a good idea to leave the computer in the toddlers' bedroom... :) So now the second bedroom has what will be the changing table, two twin mattresses, a dresser, a bookcase, and a chaise lounge that will be moving as soon as we can figure out where to put it--somewhere in the living room. We have lots of room but it's hard to decide how best to use it! It's exciting to see the room actually begin to take shape and realize that this will be our children's room.

Monday, May 23, 2005

HS turned in!

Last Friday we turned in our HS to the INS!! Very friendly worker there, and very helpful! There was almost no one else there, so it looks like midday on a Friday is a great time to go to the St. Louis INS office. We turned in our HS and asked when we would be fingerprinted. We've gotten a few different answers on this--3 weeks (from the office that we turn the HS in to but that doesn't actually process the I600A), a week and a half to two weeks (from the office that processes the I600A), and just under 2 weeks (from a woman here in StL who turned in her HS at the beginning of May). Unfortunately, they schedule fingerprints on Fridays, which is not a good day for us as we are at work and can't take off. Fortunately, if you can't make your Friday appointment, you can come any Wednesday after your original appointment, and Wednesdays are a day that we are able to get off of work!!
Thanks for your continued prayers! We seem to be in a really great place to do an adoption for a number of reasons, but we have heard from numerous other people that other INS offices can take a really long time to process I600A's. Please pray that all of our fingerprints/paperwork would go through quickly and easily. If you don't mind, please pray as well for the many other families also in the adoption process. There are a lot of places that things can get hung up (both in the US and abroad), and it is a long, tiring process. Don't worry--we've got a lot of perseverance between the two of us, although most of you who know us would just call us stubborn! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Completed homestudy!

We got a call on Tuesday afternoon from our SW that our HS is completed! It was absolutely perfect timing since Mark has Wednesdays off from his clinicals, and we were able to go pick it up. Unfortunately, we still need to turn it in to INS and were not able to do that yesterday. We had actually made an appointment earlier in the week for Friday, anticipating that we might get our HS this week. So we have an appointment set up for Friday morning to turn in our HS. Then we need to be fingerprinted (which won't happen for a week or two) and then we wait for our INS approval letter (our I-171H). So much waiting, but we're getting closer to being done every day!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Baby steps (and beds)

There's nothing like major purchases to start making the "expanding the family" thing real! As was mentioned in one of our early posts, there have been many decisions that we have had to make without having any information on the age of our future children. One of those is beds. After much discussion and research, we have decided to go with bunk beds (that will not, of course, be bunked until much, much later). This gives us a lot of options. If we come home with two children, we will have the beds set up as two twin beds, both with side rails. If we come home with one, we will have the option of bunking the beds to save space and having our child sleep on the bottom bunk. In true Mark and Courtney fashion, yesterday we purchased 2 twin sheet sets (white, bleachable!)....then 2 twin mattresses....we have yet to have beds. :)
God has been very faithful in providing us with good prices on the things we need to get, and giving us wisdom in how we should go about getting prepared. There are a lot of things to think about. We will at some point need more sheets, but this is a start. We decided to wait to decide on comforters until fall, when they will be on sale for back-to-school (college). We may choose to go with blankets instead (we have LOTS of blankets--thanks Grandma Mary!!).

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ahh..to wait

Our SW now has all of our documents, and we are waiting for her to finish writing up our HS. It's supposed to take 1.5 to 2 weeks, so we're hoping for the end of this week or beginning of next week (next Monday is two weeks). I'm sure she is busy helping other people who also want to adopt, but sometimes it's hard to wait! :) It's easiest to think that God is simply helping us learn to be more patient gradually, since there will be a long wait between when we get our travel date and when we actually travel (probably 2-3 months). It will be so hard to be here and know that our kids are over there! We want so much to have them here with us, to hug them and hold them and play with them, to love them and watch them grow, and to teach them about God's amazing love. In the meantime, we pray for them, that God would keep them safe, and that He would give them someone to love them and hold them and play with them until we get there. God is faithful, and we know that He will watch over our children, since He loves them even more than we ever could. If you are currently praying for us and the adoption process, please pray also for our children. Conditions are often very rough in the orphanages, and the orphanage workers do the best they can with the resources they have. But there simply is not enough food or money to provide for all of the children. Thus they lack medicine, clothing, diapers, and enough caretakers to spend time with the children. While some orphanages are in better condition (physically and financially) than others, most are desperately short of resources (this seems to be true particularly in rural areas. Orphanages in the cities tend to be cleaner and have more resources than those in the country. They also have more volunteers who come in and spend time with the children.)
We cherish your prayers and trust that God will take care of all of us until we can come together as a family!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Update on the physical and the next step

Yea! Courtney's completely healthy! All tests for weird diseases came back negative (you were right, Lindsey!) and we are turning in my physical form to the SW today. We have one more piece of paperwork to get to her (which should be in on Monday), and then we're hoping she'll be able to finish up the HS in the next week to week-and-a-half. Then we'll turn in our HS to the INS to complete our I600A file. Looking back over the blog, I see we've neglected to mention the I-600A. The I-600A is a request to bring a foreign orphan to reside in the US. We filed that at the very beginning, right after our first meeting in Louisville. It includes a form with basic information including where you're adopting from and how many kids--this is important...we CANNOT bring back more than 2 kids, because that's what we stated we wanted to be approved for on our I-600A (if it was up to Courtney, we'd bring 3 or 4 home!). We also had to include certified copies of our marriage license and birth certificates when we turned that in. Everyone wants copies of those. :) BUT, our file is not complete until we have turned in our HS. Once we have done that, we will be fingerprinted and checked out through the FBI (the cool digital fingerprints--we already had ink ones done for the state). So we paid INS $665, which includes the fee for filing the I-600A ($525) and the fee ($70 each) for both of us to have biometrics run (the really cool digital fingerprints). Once we have everything in to the INS* and are fingerprinted, we will wait for their approval that we can adopt. This approval comes in the form of a I-171H letter, and Ukraine will not let us adopt without that approval.

*We are using the term "INS" (Immigration and Naturalization Service) because that's what more people are familiar with. The new name for INS is "BCIS" (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services), which was changed when the Dept of Homeland Security was started. INS and BCIS refer to the same govt organization, but we will use INS for simplicity here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The process...part IV (and Courtney's physical)

I promise once I get caught up to where we are I'll stop calling it "the process...part x". It's starting to sound like a bad movie series...

We had our home visit last week, and was that an experience. I'm not going to go into much detail on the blog, so if you are interested in more about what happened you can email one of us. It was a good time of discussion with our SW, and we were able to get her opinion on sleeping arrangements and adjustments after we return with a child or two. We also discussed daycare possibilities since we aren't sure yet how all of that will work when we get back. We would prefer to have me (Courtney) stay at home, so we will have to wait and see how things are at that point in time (since we don't know _when_ that point in time will be ;) ). We also discussed discipline--also a difficult topic since we don't know if we will be disciplining a 14mo old or a 3yo. Our discipline ideals will be the same, but a 3yo is going to be used to a different set of rules and discipline, so it will be different making that transition than it would be with a younger child (or so we currently think). At this point, I think we've filled you in on everything that has happened so far. From here on out, it really will be a little less exciting and we will probably be blogging less often (although I love to talk about our adoption process, so we'll see). :)

Regarding Courtney's physical:

Praises to God and thanks to all of you for your faithful prayers!!
I mentioned in our last post that our dossier documents need to be within 30 days old when we put it together, and this has caused some issues for me (Courtney). As I have started a new job, I have new insurance, and a new doctor. The earliest she was able to get me in is May (and much thanks to them--it was originally June and they found a spot to squeeze me in!!). The problem is I need a physical for our home study to be completed, and then I need the medical form filled out for our dossier. If I wait to get the HS physical until May, our INS approval will not be done until sometime in June, and I would need to go to the doctor again to get the Ukraine medical form filled out. So our social worker suggested I go to a local clinic and pay to have a physical done there (including a urinalysis and TB test). I would pay for it out-of-pocket, and then my insurance would cover the physical with my official doctor in May. Our HS would be done by the end of this month, etc. However, this has been an incredibly frustrating hassle. I have called any number of clinics and no one will do a physical for an adoption! They will do them for school, for work, for sports...not for an adoption. I don't know if there's a liability issue or what. Finally, Mark asked at his student clinic, and they couldn't do it but referred us to BarnesCare. I called BC and they said they could do a physical, the urinalysis would be included, so I would only pay for the physical and the TB test. We went yesterday at about 3:45 (with me telling Mark I wouldn't believe they would actually do the physical until after it was done) and when I checked in at the desk they said they stop doing physicals at 3:30pm!! *lol* (At this point, it's become a source of amusement that I can't get this physical done.) I told the nurse that I had called this morning and asked and they hadn't mentioned they stop doing them at 3:30pm, and she said "well, let's see if we can get you in!" I filled out paperwork faster than I ever have in my life, and they really got me in!! They were so sweet and helpful and I really appreciate it. They filled out all of the forms I needed, and I will return tomorrow to have my TB test read. All of this ended up costing only $68, which is such a blessing. Thanks again to all of you who have prayed that this would work out, and that if I was not able to get a physical that we would have peace about that. We know that there may be delays, and there is always a reason for those. Perhaps our child/ren will not be available for adoption for another few weeks and we need to be delayed in order to get there at the right time--who knows?!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The process...part III

I'm trying to keep the size of the posts somewhat manageable, so I apologize if it's driving anyone nuts that I keep cutting off in the middle of the story...

The weekend before our individual interviews, we had a paperwork meeting in Louisville (about a 4h drive for us). We love our facilitators, and I think they are doing a fantastic job, but we really have a hard time driving 4h each way for a 40 minute meeting! We took lunch with us, so we sat in the sun and had a picnic afterwards which was a lot of fun, and good relaxation for us. :) At the meeting, we received a packet of all of the documents that will be included in our dossier to be sent to Ukraine. They gave us sample copies, so we will retype them with our names and information. Everything has to be notarized and then apostilled, which is a certification from the state saying the the notary is certified (sort of a double check). This process stems from the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption which is an international agreement that set up rules and regulations that all participating countries agreed to abide by. So when we do an international adoption, if we are going through a country that participates in the Hague Convention, they have agreed to accept our documents as official if we have a notary and apostille on them.
Our facilitators also informed us that all of our documents in our dossier need to be within 30 days old when we put our dossier together. This means we will need to get our state background checks again (Mark's driving to Jeff City this time *lol*) and our marriage license again, because the notary dates on those will be over 30 days old when we start putting our dossier together. This sounds like a lot of work, but it's actually very important. There are many couples who are getting ready to travel or who are in Ukraine who have had documents expire, and had to find ways to redo them and resubmit them. The Ukrainian govt considers all documents over a year old to be expired, even if they would not be expired in the US, so it is in our best interest that all of our documents be as current as possible. For enforcing this I am very grateful to our facilitators, because it will make our life much easier later on!

Monday, April 25, 2005

The process...part II

I left off with getting our BCs and marriage license--only the start of the paperwork! We got a local police records check for each of us here in St. Louis, and also got fingerprinted. The fingerprint cards went with me to Jefferson City (about a 1.5h drive) for our child abuse and neglect search and state police records check. The funny thing about this--our SW told us sometimes it's faster to take the forms than mail them. So I called the office in Jeff City and asked how long it would be if we mailed them v. bringing them in. The answer? SIX WEEKS if we mailed them--if I brought them in they would be done within an hour. *laugh* Tough decision, huh?
We had to turn in medical reports (physicals--more on this later) for each of us, and an employment letter for me and a letter from Mark's department stating he is a full-time student. Mark was able to get a physical (for free!) from the on-campus clinic since he is a student. We completed a home study application, an adoption worksheet, a financial statement, signed a services/fee schedule, and copied our last 1040 form (top page only).
After we'd turned most of our paperwork in, our SW sent us a list of questions to answer as our autobiographies. This covered just about everything you could think of, from how we were disciplined as children to our families' opinions on adoption! After our autobiographies were complete, we each met with our SW for individual interviews. I'm not sure what's supposed to be covered in these, but she and I (Courtney) spent most of the time discussing TV and kids who don't get enough sleep--and I had plenty to say on both of those!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


In response to a number of emails (which is great! we love to hear from you guys!!), we've put together a FAQ post that will hopefully help everyone catch up with this whole adoption process.

Why adoption?
We have talked about adopting since we were married in 1999. We had originally planned to have a few children and then adopt a few. However, God has other plans. ;) We have not gotten pregnant for over 3 years now, with no known medical reason. We are not interested in fertilization techniques at this point in time and have decided to pursue adoption to begin our family!

Why Ukraine?
We visited Ukraine in the spring of 2003 and really loved it. We loved the people, the culture, and especially the food!! While we were there, we visited a number of orphanages, both urban and rural. There are so many kids in Ukraine who need loving homes. There are also a large number who are in the orphanages but who are not adoptable, as their parents are still alive but cannot take care of them. We feel that we can give some (1,2...a few ;) ) of the adoptable kids a loving home and a chance to live life that they might not experience if they stay in the orphanage.

How does it work?
Here's the brief story: We will fill out all of our paperwork here, which first entails getting a homestudy done (which we're still working on) and getting INS (US govt) approval to adopt internationally. Then we will collect a bunch of paperwork for Ukraine (including our HS and our INS approval) and send it to the National Adoption Center (NAC) in Kiev. We're hoping to do that June-ish. If the NAC approves our dossier, we will then be registered to come adopt a child. We can then request a date to go to the NAC to be shown potential children for adoption. Ukraine does not allow preselection of children (through photolistings, etc.) so we will not have any ideas of the child we will be coming home with until we travel and visit the NAC. Depending on when everything goes through will depend on what date we request. They do not have to honor our request--we could ask for December and they could give us an appointment in October or March! Whenever our appt is, we will travel to Kiev to the NAC. At the NAC, we will be shown photos and medical descriptions of children who supposedly fit our profile (ages, medical conditions, etc.). When we find a child that we are interested in adopting, we are given a referral to go visit that child in their orphanage. We can visit with the child for as many days as we like before we decide whether or not we will adopt him/her. After our decision, we either file a bunch more paperwork and have a court date to finish the adoption, or we choose to return to the NAC for the referral of a different child (most people accept the first referral unless there is a medical condition that was not disclosed). Once we have a child, we will get them a passport and visa and then return to the US! Sounds quick and easy, right? ;)

How long will you be in Ukraine?
We will probably be in Ukraine 3-4 weeks. There are a lot of variables in that time frame, because we will travel to wherever the child is to visit him/her, and Ukraine is a large country! People have come back from Ukraine adoptions as quickly as 2.5 weeks, and the current record that I know of is a couple who just returned after 11 weeks, and will be returning in a few to get their son (this is an unusual case with special circumstances)!

What age of child are you requesting and how many?
We are asking for a child from age 14mo-4 years, although we would prefer under 3 years old. Ukraine does not adopt out children under the age of 14mo unless there is a severe medical condition, so chances are good the child we adopt will be a toddler. We are hoping to adopt two, but Ukraine only allows for the adoption of 2 orphans if they are siblings, so we don't know if there will be any sibling groups that fit our age range that are available when we are there.

Are the children healthy?
Based on US standards, no. Almost all of the children in the orphanages are undernourished, as a consequence they are underweight and have many issues from malnutrition. Most of these clear up after a healthy diet and plenty of exercise and love. Many of the children have minor correctable medical issues, such as cleft lip/palate, lazy eye, etc. There are also children with more severe medical issues such as missing limbs, blind, deaf, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, etc.

What are you doing to prepare for parenthood?
Well, it's a little difficult to prepare materially since we don't know what age, gender, or even how many kids we will come home with! We have been discussing bedding options (crib v toddler bed v twin) and we are working on reading some adoption books to help us prepare mentally. A lot of people take a suitcase full of clothing ranging from 12mo-3T. Whatever their child can't wear is left at the orphanage for the other children. We will probably look at doing something like that so that we will have some clothing that fits before we come home. We will also be sending out SOS emails once we are in Ukraine for some help here in St Louis to grab last minute things like diapers, etc. once we know the sizes we need.

What can I do to help?
First and foremost, PRAY! We need lots of prayers for patience as we wait for God's timing. Prayers for financial peace are wonderful too. If you are interested in helping out with the adoption, we can use donations of good used toddler clothing (12mo-3T). Financial donations are also welcome. We will be posting a breakdown of costs before too long if you would like to sponsor a specific aspect of our adoption process.

Why would you need financial donations? Are you not financially capable of caring for a child?
I've included this one--although no one has asked us about it--because it is a very common question for adoptive parents. The truth is, yes, we are financially capable of caring for a child or children. However, coming up with $10000-15000 out of pocket can be trying. We have been very blessed by God with money from the sale of our house in Michigan, but we would like to have some savings set aside in case our child/ren need more extensive medical care when we return (surgery for cleft palate, lazy eye, etc.).

If there are other questions we didn't answer, please let us know!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The process

As you can see, we're probably not going to be updating this daily--maybe more like once or twice a month. Last Wednesday we had our individual interviews with our social worker (SW). It was quite an interesting experience. To back up a bit, here's how the process works...

We are working with a group of facilitators out of Louisville, KY. They will help us get our paperwork together, get our documents translated, and they have contacts in Ukraine for places to stay and interpreters while we are there. We had an initial meeting with them in February, at which point they told us how the process would work if we worked with them. The week before we met with them, I had started calling SWs in Saint Louis, checking prices and timelines. There is a huge difference in cost between SWs and we wanted someone who is familiar with Ukraine adoptions and can do homestudies relatively quickly. When we got back from Louisville, we chose our SW. We met with her for an initial interview and got a list of the paperwork required for our HS. We also paid her $675, half of the total fee for our HS. We had to gather certified birth certificates and marriage certificates, which for us required 3 different states!! We really should stop moving around so much. :) Luckily for me (Courtney), I was able to get my BC here in Saint Louis, since I was born in MO. Mark's parents went and got his and mailed it to us (thank you!), and so the only one we really had to wait for was our marriage certificate from Texas. But Texas, being the friendly, helpful place it is, was very prompt and sent us copies of our marriage certificate right away (I'm pointing this out because there are certain states that seem to move much slower--taking weeks to get documents to people for their HS--and I was very impressed that TX was so quick!).

I'll continue with the process a bit later. Please pray for us as we continue fulfilling requirements for our HS, that everything will work out as God wills, and that we will have patience for His timing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Welcome to our blog!

As this is the first blog we've had, it may take us awhile to work out some of the bugs. Please be patient as we (hopefully) improve!