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 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.