Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Adoption Class

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

We attended our Pre-Adoption III Class on Saturday. The only other couple there was adopting from China. They turned in their paperwork 7 months before we did, so they are well ahead of us in the wait department. At our class, we discussed being a multi-cultural family and what that entails, the adoption tax credit, stupid things people will say to you in public in front of your kids ("How much did she cost?" is one example.), among other things that have slipped my mind at this exact moment. There were also 2 guest speakers that were adult adoptees. It was an interesting class, especially hearing from the folks who were adopted as children and how they view adoption today. One had a very open family, who talked with her about adoption all her life. Her adoption "story" was one that they built on through time and gave her age-appropriate information as she went along. She has adopted 2 children as well. The other lady's family did not discuss adoption that much with her when she was younger, and she grew up feeling that her birth family did not love her and that is why they "gave her away." She also recently found out that she wasn't her adoptive parents "first choice." (very sad) We like the idea of the "adoption story" and building upon it as they get older. I guess we need to get busy with our "story." There will be no doubt that our children are adopted, but we want them to know that they were loved by their birth parents and are loved by us as well. We plan to do life books for them with their "story" included.

We had some additional paperwork notarized yesterday (Thanks, Eleanor!), so we are well on our way to being finished. I faxed that notarized paperwork to the agency to be reviewed to make sure that everything is in line. I just received an e-mail saying that everything looked great, except for one thing...guess which documents those were...yes, the documents from the police department! UGH...please read below post to hear that story. The notary expires in September, and our agency says that they need more time than that. I have a call into her now to explain the fiasco and to see if she has any idea of how to combat that problem. I may have to hire a traveling notary to go with us to the police station and do it all over again. What drama...

I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day this past weekend. Have a great week!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Background Checks

Hello all ~

While we are waiting on the I-171H to come back, we still have a few things to complete.  Most of them just require getting someone to notarize our signatures, but one fun thing that we had to do again was go to the police department to get background checks on both of us.  (Please note that I am being sarcastic when I say, "fun.")  We cannot figure out why we have to have background checks done when we had to be fingerprinted as well.  ???  Interesting that the Department of Homeland Security and local authorities cannot get on the same page.

This was the 3rd time (twice now in Nashville and once in Chattanooga) that we have had to do this.  I will say that Chattanooga/Hamilton County gets the award for the most efficient office in this particular matter. The last time we went (in Nashville), the notary public was not there, so we learned our lesson to call before we go to make sure that he/she is there.  So...I called this morning and waited on hold for 45 minutes.  I am not exaggerating here.  The most frustrating thing about it was that I could not get a person on the phone.  Anytime I pushed any buttons, it was still automated.  So, I stubbornly waited until someone picked up.  You might ask why I didn't hang up and call back later, but my work schedule was very tight today with meetings and conference calls.  I had a very tight window in which to operate.  Plus, I worked downtown today, where the police department is.  So, today was the day.  When I finally got someone on the phone, she had to see if the notary was working today, and she was.  However, she was at lunch at that time.  I asked how long they get for lunch, and she told me that they got 30 minutes.  So, by the time we got down there, she should be back.  So, Philip picked me up at work, and off we went.  When we got to the police department, we were very fortunate (We thought.) in the fact that there was only one person in line ahead of us.  So, we filled out the appropriate paperwork and waited in line.  After we waited about 10 minutes, we got up to the window, and I told the person what we were there for and that we needed the documents notarized.  After another 20 minutes of waiting, the person came back with the documents...not notarized.  So, I reminded them that they needed to be notarized.  So, off they go again.  After 40 minutes of waiting again, they FINALLY came back notarized.  So, after a total of 1 hour of waiting at the police station, we had what we needed.  There had to have been 15-20 people who came and went while we waited. I STILL cannot believe that it took that long to get 2 pieces of paper.  This is just one more example of why the adoption paperwork process is so frustrating.  And, once again, I can understand why more people don't do it.  If you aren't organized, there is no way that you would ever get all of this done.

On Saturday, we are attending a pre-adoption class put on by our adoption agency.  We will learn about talking to our child about adoption, how to incorporate a lifebook into our child's life, life as a multi-cultural family, the adoption tax credit (yay!), and birthparents/adult adoptees.  We have attended one other pre-adoption class thus far.  In addition to these 2 classes, we still have to watch a series of DVD's and take a test, plus attend a community infant care class at a local hospital.  These things have to be done before our paperwork can go to Ethiopia.  We'll update you on the class this weekend.

We hope you all have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Monday, June 9, 2008


Good afternoon ~

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I wanted to update you on our paperwork saga. I heard back from the adoption agency this morning, and it looks like it will be another 4-6 weeks on the paperwork we have already been waiting 8 weeks for. CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) out of Memphis contacted CHI (Children's Hope International) this morning to say that they are now requiring different wording on all Home Studies. Ours just happened to be the first that they have "kicked back" due to improper wording. (great luck, huh?!?) The social worker voiced concern that we were just approved for our addendum for the Chinese adoption, and CIS responded that they had just been through additional training and that all Home Studies will now have to have a new sentence in them. The social worker prepared another addendum today with the new wording and shipped it off to CIS. So, the waiting continues.

Please pray that CIS will quickly review the addendum and process the paperwork more quickly than 4-6 weeks. I hope you all have a great week, and I'll let you know if anything changes. Thanks for your continued love and support through the wait.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Happy Friday, everyone! To top off an already stressful week at work, we received a letter in the mail yesterday from CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services). Not the I-171H that we were hoping for, but a letter stating that our home study "did not indidcate whether the living accommodations met applicable State standards" and for us to submit an addendum addressing this deficiency. WHAT?!? First of all, this is the 2nd home study that we have sent them (China and then this one for Ethiopia), and they say the exact same thing...VERBATIM. They approved the 1st one, so what's the deal?

So, I called the agency today and told them what we received. They pulled the file and can't believe that we received the letter either. A social worker at the office e-mailed the CIS folks to see if they just missed that part of the home study, or what. She also went ahead and prepared an addendum, just in case. This could potentially delay things 4-6 MORE weeks; therefore, we wouldn't receive our I-171H back until early-mid July. With the courts being closed from August until October in Ethiopia, this would mean that we would more than likely not have the kiddos home by the end of the year. We are pushing it anyway at this stage in the game, but if it is postponed 4-6 more weeks, we are almost guaranteed a delay.

This is just one example of how frustrating and tedious the paperwork can be and how difficult they make it to adopt a child. No wonder more people don't do it...

Have a great weekend. It is going to be a crazy one in Music City with the CMA Music Festival in town!

Monday, June 2, 2008

June Update

Good afternoon ~

Happy June! I can't believe that we are almost half-way through 2008 already. As I get older, time seems to go faster. Unbelieveable.

Unfortunately, the time is not going faster on the adoption front, especially with China. In fact, throughout the entire year, China has only made it to January 12, 2006, with referrals. Our log-in date is November of 2006, so we have a ways to go (potentially 3-5 more years). The current wait time is 29 months.

Speaking of China, the earthquake devastation is so sad. Many orphanages were affected, and our agency is providing aid to the ones that were damaged. Fortunately, the last I heard, all of the children are safe and accounted for. Many folks have asked me if I think this will speed anything up with the adoption. Unfortunately, I don't think so. In fact, it could slow things down even more while they try and sort through everything.

As far as the Ethiopian adoption is concerned, we still have not received our I-171H back, yet. As soon as we get that back, we can move forward with completing our dossier and get that sent off.
On another sad note, as many of you know, there was a tragedy in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. Steven Curtis Chapman, well-known Christian musician, lost his adopted 5 year-old daughter from China in a tragic accident at their home outside of Nashville. He and his family have adopted 3 girls from China, and Maria was the youngest. He and his family have a heart for adoption and started a grant organization called Shaohannah's Hope where they assist families financially to adopt. We applied with them back in April and are waiting to hear if we were approved for assistance. We received an e-mail last week that said that the approvals were running behind since the tragedy (totally understandable). Steven and his family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be given to Shaohannah's Hope, so in the midst of this tragedy, they are still trying to help children and families through adoption...very inspring. He has made several trips to China to volunteer in orphanages, and it is one of his passions. The adoption world and Nashville community mourn with Steven and his family.

I'm sorry that I'm not better at blogging. I guess that I don't have a lot to talk about since all we are doing is waiting at this point. For those of you out there who are also waiting, good luck and hang in there!!