Monday, August 25, 2008

we did stuff

We have begun the paper chase! We've done stuff! Woo-hoo!
So this is what we've done. We got life insurance (yikes, so adult.) We began working on our Gladney application. We completed form I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition which will be sent off to US Citizenship and Immigration Services tomorrow (along with 2 checks made out to Department of Homeland Security - awesome.) We bought a filing box and filing folders (I've never been so organized.) And we bought one of the most useful items I could ever imagine, a copy machine/scanner/printer!
How bout that?
Next on the agenda, filling out and sending in our application for our homestudy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

i want to be a number!

I've just spent about 2 hours staring at instructions, checklists and applications and all I keep thinking is, why can't I just give them our credit scores!?! They're good! I thought that's all that mattered in life anyway. Doesn't our whole life and worthiness as a person boil down to that one little number? In the past, I've gotten so mad at the idea that this one little number could describe to some big corporation that I was worthy of their affection, and now, I find myself very pissed off that there is not one line on any of these forms that asks me for that very number. We've worked very hard to make our numbers good. And now I can't even use them! Dag-nabit!

So what's happened since my last post? Well, the car got fixed, Catherine visited for 10 days, I went to my first soccer game, watched approximately 500 hours of Olympics, we received our Gladney application and about a million attachments via email, I've freaked out about this about 5 times, and I opened a FedEx account. In no particular order.

Thursday is the next day that Matt and I have off together, so we are going to go through all of this stuff and try to work out a game plan. And next time I post, hopefully I will be able to report that I have actually done something productive. But for now, one might find me huddled in a corner, rocking back and forth, muttering my credit score over and over and over...

Friday, August 8, 2008

pop quiz, hot shot

Sometimes life tests you. I think this is one of those times for me. Not a big test, like when a certain family member gets a certain baseball sized tumor, but little tests. You know, like when you're about spend endless amounts of money on an international adoption, and your car decides to break down on the way to pick your best friend up from the airport. And luckily it happened right in front of a service station, but the very nice man there says your radiator is broken and he's gonna have to replace it for $455. And you're half way between here and there, so you have take a cab back to your home and wait for the man to call you back.
Well, that's where I'm at.
I hope I pass.
But, Catherine is safely here and I mailed off the request for our Gladney application today! So that's good.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

phone orientation

We talked with Judy from the Gladney Center today for our orientation. She basically outlined everything I described in the post below, only in a much more concise, organized, non-rambling manner. She's sooooo nice and has this perfect Texas accent and makes you feel like this is a manageable set of tasks that you can accomplish.
Oh Judy, can't you just do all this for us? Pretty Please?
Ok, no, we can do this. One step at a time, one step at a time...
Wait, what are we supposed to do first?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

how long's this gonna take?

Ok, as promised, here is a rough rundown of how this is gonna go.
The gist is, its going to take about a year. Give or take.
Tomorrow morning we have a one hour phone orientation with one of the people from the adoption agency. In it, we will learn the details of everything that we're going to have to do to make this happen. She has already emailed me the manual. I read it and got scared, fast. There is just so much paperwork and documenting and notarizing and certifying and copying and inspecting and so on and so forth. I understand it. The whole goal is to make sure the child is going to a decent home with decent people who are truly fit to be parents. (I just wonder how it would go if they did this for EVERYONE who is having a baby.)
The other thing that makes all of this so much more complicated is that we are dealing with international adoption. That means that, not only are we proving ourselves to our agency and the US government, but we also must prove ourselves worthy to Ethiopia as well. In order to do this, you must compile what's called a "foreign dossier." In this dossier are about a hundred million things documenting your life, your health, your home and everything else. And it must be presented exactly how Ethiopia says it must be presented, or you're gonna have trouble getting through court. Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself.
One of the first things we will have to take care of while we are compiling documents is to complete a homestudy. A homestudy is when a social worker comes to your home for 5 or 6 hours and, well, studies you. Well ok, they don't just sit there and watch you while you go about your business. They ask you questions and you ask them questions and they write stuff down about you and your home. How this lasts for 5 or 6 hours, I have no idea. But we'll find out. When they are done they write a report, which takes about a month. This report will go to our agency, the US government and in our foreign dossier (I think.)
At the same time as all of this, we will also be filling out our enormous application for our agency.
When ALL of this is complete, the homestudy, doctors visits, applications, fingerprinting, background checks, documenting, all of it, our dossier will be sent to Ethiopia. At this point we will be put on the wait list for a referral. A referral is a child. Well, ok, its when they send a recommendation of a child to you and you can either accept it or deny it. Our agency says this wait list is about 3 to 5 months, but of course, that can always change. Once you get your referral, you will then wait another 2 to 3 months for a court date. The court date is when the adoption is either approved or denied. Near as I can tell, you rarely get through on your first court date. It might take as many as 5 or 6. And god forbid your court date happens to fall around late summer, because the courts close in August and September for the rainy season.

But then, once we have finally passed our court date, we get to go to Ethiopia and get our baby!

Monday, August 4, 2008

friends and family ROCK

You all are SO awesome! I have received so many wonderful responses and it makes Matt and me feel so good. Thank you all so much. I have been trying to email everyone back, and if I haven't emailed you already, I will. But just know how much it means to me that you have given us your support.

I wanted to do another post tonight to sort of give a rundown of the time line of this whole process, but I got home really late due to the torrential apocalypse of thunderstorms that hit Chicago tonight. So I'm just gonna watch some tivo'd Paranormal State and go to bed. But I promise the time line for tomorrow night.

Love to you all!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

and so it begins

This is a blog to document our adoption process. That's right, we're adopting! From Ethiopia! We're so excited! But how did this all come about (you might be wondering.) Actually, you might be wondering a lot of things. Let me see if I can answer some questions.

Why are you adopting?
Well, as many of you know, Matt and I have been trying to start a family for a couple of years here now. And well, it wasn't going too well. So we enlisted the help of a fertility expert who, after several tests and one surgery, determined that the only way I'd be getting knocked up would be through in vitro fertilization. And aside from the fact that I always told myself I would never do IVF because of the hormones and the stress and the less than 50% chance of it working in a given cycle, we simply couldn't do it because we do not have insurance that covers the process (thanks a lot American health care system.) This is how the math works in my head: $10,000 for something that has a good chance of not working, versus $20,000 for a process in which we definitely end up with a baby. After a day of torment, grief and helplessness that followed our last meeting with the doc, the answer became very clear. For as much as I really wanted to be pregnant, and feel a life grow inside of me, the ultimate goal was always to be a mom. And for us to be a family.
And truthfully, Matt and I have always discussed adoption as an option for a second child. Matt has especially strong feelings about it, as he himself is adopted (by his dad.) So it certainly was not a foreign notion. Speaking of foreign...

Why international adoption?
First, let me say that, truthfully, we know deep down in our hearts, the really right thing to do would be to adopt older, waiting children in this country. There are so many kids who have physical, mental and/or emotional issues right here in America that need families, not to mention that there is very little cost in that kind of adoption. And it makes us both sad that we do not feel emotionally or financially prepared to care for those children. I really wish I could be that person. Maybe someday I will be.

So ok, what about signing up with a birth-mother domestically and getting a healthy newborn? Well, you know that part in Juno when they are flipping through the penny saver looking at advertisements for couples who want to adopt? Yeah, that's true, and I can't go through that. I can't be posting advertisements for us. I can't be hoping praying begging for somebody to pick me. I have a big enough fear of rejection. I don't need that. And of course, we've all heard the horror stories of families going through that whole process, only to have the birth-mom change her mind in the end. I would die. So international it is...

So why Ethiopia?
In the end I just knew it was right.
But at the beginning of my research, I was um, daunted. How do you do this? How do you pick an agency? How do you pick a country? How can we, a couple of shift-workers, afford to go overseas to get a child?
All I can say is, THANK GOD FOR THE INTERNETS!!!! Honestly, I don't know how I would have figured any of this out without that special series of tubes. It went like this: Google international adoption, click on a couple of websites for adoption agencies, end up on website for The Gladney Center for Adoption from some link on some website, click on Ethiopia, watch video that automatically plays of this nice couple describing how the man from the agency came down the stairs and simply placed their baby in their arms, sob and sob and sob and know in my heart that I want us to be that couple. And then through the tears, I did the research. The basics are that Ethiopia is one of the easiest and cheapest countries to adopt from (that doesn't mean that it is either easy of cheap.) And we can get a baby, under a year old, which is not true of many other countries. But what got me, really, once I started reading a little bit about Ethiopia, is that there is just such a need. There are so many children that grow up in extreme poverty, the kind that we don't know in this country, in orphanages that have nothing. And please don't think that I am thinking I am some kind of savior. God knows I'm far from it. I'm just a girl who wants to be a mom hoping to find a baby who needs a mom and a dad.
And so in the end, I just knew it was right.

But Tam, if you adopt from Ethiopia, your child will be black. And you and Matt are white.
Yes, thank you, we are aware of the situation. It's ok if you were thinking it, even if you didn't want to say it. Matt and I are not naive enough to think that, just because we are cool with it, everything will go smoothly and we will all live happily ever after. People will stare, and people will say things. That is not my biggest worry. There are ways to deal with that. My biggest worry is that I will have a child (and eventually children) who will be straddling two worlds without knowing which to identify with. And we're gonna have to work on that. All I know for sure is that I will love them and hope to provide a safe sanctuary within our family.

So that is it, my very long-winded summary of how we came to this monumental decision in our lives.

Please feel free to comment, ask me any other questions, share thoughts, etc.

A lot of people have asked me to keep them up to date on what is going on with this process, so if you are interested (and you made it through my excessively long first post - good on you) please follow along in this exciting and terrifying journey with us.