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!