What's the Worst That Could Happen?
"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break." -Chinese Proverb
We wanted more children so we waited, unlucky, decided to adopt, we finished the paperwork, we're paper pregnant, and SURPRISE - we're also expecting biological twins. This blog is our life with three tots the same age and an older brother.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Fax and Photos
I bought a fax machine Saturday and finally got it working today. We thought this would come in handy with our agency being in TX and the fact that this makes copies as well. Today I faxed our DC consultant a copy of Tony's employment letter to make sure it is worded as they want it to be. She said she may not get back to me this week b/c she's trying to finish a deadline with some dossier's (I wish that was ours but we're still waiting on the USCIS and our passports).
Sunday I had another passport photo made b/c I needed a 2x2 photo to send to the agency. Since the last photos I had made only gave me two copies and both were needed for the passport, I had to get more once AGAIN (3rd time now). Tony's originals came with 6 just like my first originals but he didn't like my picture so now I've paid three times for 2x2 photos. I would have gone back to the first place since they give 6 photos but I didn't want to drive all the way back to Greensboro.
I've emailed HFS yahoo group to find out what types of other family life photos they used. I need just four family life photos besides the 2x2's, one of just me and Tony, front of our house and one of the inside of our house. I'm going to send the Disney family photo I posted on the blog already, one of Tony and Logan with their matching shirts from WFU, but the other two I just don't know what to do. I can't find a decent photo of me with Logan. Tony took one Saturday with us swinging together with our digital camera but when it printed at home and also at Eckerd's it was fuzzy. It's cute but I don't want to send a fuzzy photo to China.
My new little kitten has been checking out the photos laying on the desk. Her little footprints might be on some.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Taking a break from paperwork
Today was a break from working on anything adoption related. I found a kitten yesterday and we have decided to keep her. After going through several name changes, we've finally decided on Leia. Can you tell a Star Wars fan lives here?
At Wal-Mart today I saw the Sonya Lee doll. There was only one and the box was half-way destroyed so I didn't get it. However, I did find a smaller doll that was only $4.97 so I bought it. It will be put up for our new baby. I think it's cute how they show Asian kids on the boxes playing with this Asian doll.
Draft of Home Study
I received an email this morning from the owner of Nathanson's that a draft of our home study is on the way. I emailed my social worker b/c the amount she charged me didn't go out in the mail yesterday. I made it to the PO too late. However, if this means my draft will not come until she receives this check, I'm going to offer to take the check to her house so we can get this draft sooner. Otherwise, she may not get the check until Wed b/c of the Holiday on Monday.
Last night Logan said several times to us, "I want a baby. I'll share my toys." It just breaks my heart that we can't have Reagan here with us but we keep telling him that it will not be long before we have another baby to come live with us. He is going to make such a great big brother. At the restaurant last night, he would tell us everytime he heard a baby crying. He wants to see the babies everytime he hears one. He's changed his mind about calling our China baby Froggy now, but he hasn't renamed him/her.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
In the mail today
We finally received Tony's employment verfication from his work and it is notarized. My only concern with this is it says the assignment is anticipated to last 12 months which we knew about but I hope China still okays this.
Our SW sent the last bill to us. We were charged an extra $53.25 for her travel to our house the 2 times she came here. Calculated mileage 50 miles @ 36.5 cents and travel time one hour at $35/hour. I'm mailing the check today b/c our preplacement assessment can not be released until this is paid.
I also received some pictures today I ordered to be printed to use for our family life photos.
Financial Statement / Video on China's Lost Girls
We sent our financial statement for review to our DC this morning. We had to list our income, life insurance amounts, all assets and liabilities and then give our net worth.
Yesterday I watched the video loaned to us about China's Lost Girls by National Geographic. Tony watched it last night after he got home. It described how these girls are being abandoned and put up for adoption b/c of the one child policy and how the families prefer boys over girls. This is becoming a problem b/c now boys are overpopulating and eventually there will be no girls to marry. Some women are already being kidnapped and sold as wives. Husbands have threatened their wives that if they didn't give them a boy then they would send them away. One lady interviewed did have a boy and then a girl second and she had to pay a large fine to keep her daughter.
The happiest, tear-jerker part of the movie was showing a travel group on Gotcha Day. All these families were being introduced to their new daughters at the same time. Everyone was crying happy tears, even me from just watching the video. I can't wait for this day to come for us.
Draft of our Adoption Application Letter
I emailed our DC this morning a draft of our adoption application letter. We were to follow a certain format provided by HFS. Many thanks to Karen Petty for looking over this for us and helping us improve the letter. Also, thanks to those that sent us your letters as well. I got some great ideas.
It is our most heartfelt desire to adopt a healthy infant child under the age of twelve (12) months age from within your country. It does not matter to us the sex of the child as either a boy or a girl would be most welcomed into the heart of our family.
We are ready to expand our family by adopting a child. We currently have one son, Logan, who is three (3) years old. In the past, we have experienced the loss of twins at eight weeks gestation and more recently, the loss of a daughter at 19 weeks gestation. At that time, we found ourselves researching adoption from China as it has been in our hearts for several years now. After undergoing infertility treatments and multiple pregnancy losses, we have come to realize that adoption is the perfect fit for our family. Our hearts lead us to your country as we look to fulfill and complete our family. We have so much respect for the Chinese people, their many great contributions to civilization and long impressive history. In addition, China's international adoption program has an excellent reputation for being fair, honest and efficient.
William works as a consultant for a software testing company and Melissa stays home full time to care for our young son, Logan. Our hobbies and interests include playing musical instruments, reading, spending time with friends, involvement in church activities, computers and watching movies together. Our son is excited about having a new sibling and looks forward to his role as “big brother.” Our free time as a family is spent with our son reading to him, going to parks and the zoo, engaging in recreational activities as well as playing games at home.
We promise not to abandon or abuse our adopted child and also promise to treat our adopted child the same as our biological child. We further promise to raise the adopted child so that he / she can grow up in a healthy manner. We both feel education is very important and will help him / her to enjoy learning and strive to be the best he / she can be. We will encourage our adopted child the exact same way we do our son, Logan, to explore different activities to find what he / she has a passion for. We will have regular medical exams to make sure that he / she grows up healthy and happy.
We humbly thank the China Center of Adoption Affairs for considering our request to adopt a healthy infant child, less than twelve (12) months of age. It is an honor to be considered and we thank you for helping realize our dreams of parenthood.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Lady Bug followed Tony home
Tony spent the night in Charlotte last night and when we saw the car drive up, I said to Logan "Daddy's home" and he ran out the door and said "He's got a baby". We explained to him the baby is not here yet and it will be a few months. As Tony was going into the house, I saw a lady bug on his shoulder. I guess he did bring a "baby" home. (Read my prior post about the significance of lady bugs and China Adoption families).
INVOICE FOR VERIFICATION AND AUTHENTICATION PROCESSING FEES
Late last night I received an email from our DC with lots more info. It was mainly for sending fees and when and what I need to send to her.
Here are the fees for verification and authentication (We are taking care of the State so I'm not sure what that cost will be)
Processing Fee (s)
State Verification: North Carolina (Handled by family) $0
State Verification: Texas $10
Department of State Authentications $72
Chinese Consulate Authentications $ 310
Total Processing Fees Fee’s ( Payable to “HFS Dossier Consulting”( Dallas Office) on or before commencement of verification & authentication process)
I emailed her back some questions but the office is closed until Tuesday. HFS is having a big family picnic today. I'll have to wait until Tuesday to get my answers.
Does any know when is the China g-1 authentication form used? Does it go with every document? Is one filled out for both of us?
I have most of everything needed now except I-171H, home study (but we have had all visits completed), medical forms should be complete today, and employment letters (Tony's should be received today). I've completed our application letter but I still want to tweak it some before your review.
Do the 2x2 pictures need to match the passport photo? I have some extra of Tony's passport photo but not mine. I would assume not b/c some already have their passports before getting to this stage. I was just curious since we were asked to provide 2x2 photos of each of us.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
I met a wonderful soon-to-be Mom today. I doubt she'll mind me posting her blog (since I saw a link to mine on her's) http://www.journeytogwen.blogspot.com/ Karen let me look through her dossier...WOW!! It's thick. I'm not halfway there yet. She also loaned me a video and a book to read about China adoption. I also got a present from her. It's a beautiful bag designed by Chu-Schill. www.chuschill.com Mine is black with butterflies and flowers on it. It's so pretty. Thanks Karen!!!
Maybe end of July DTC but probably August
I've been questioning some other NC adoption parents about their 171H. Seems it is taking about 2 months for this to come in after Home Study is sent in to USCIS. That means we're looking at late July or August before we're DTC (dossier to China). If this is the case, if we go by average time from DTC to referrel, that means we're looking at March before we get a picture of our new child. :( I was hoping sooner but we'll just have to wait. I'm hoping this doesn't mean we would end up traveling around Logan's birthday in April.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I placed on our blog three photos I'm including in our dossier for our Family Life photo section. I also have one of the exterior of our home, one interior of our living room, one of me and my hobbies (playing the flute), our Disney picture, and I think I still need to come up with a few more. I gotta dig some more.
Unemployment letter and more
I wrote my unemployment letter today and it was approved by our DC. It mainly says that I am unemployed by choice to be a stay home mom and that Tony is the sole provider and that I have no plans at this time to return to work. I have to get this notarized.
I had two calls from the dr's office. First one said the forms were ready to be picked up. The 2nd was to say they weren't finished. Oh well, maybe tomorrow they can finish all that. I asked a lot from them.
I've been given two other adoption letters from other parents to get ideas on what to write in ours. Both have given me some good ideas to put in our letter to CCAA. I've started ours but Tony hasn't read over any of it yet.
I also tried to find photos we could send. We have to have one of the outside of the house (got it), one of the inside (???? what room????), one close up of Tony and myself together (fortunately Alexis Griffith took one of us in a restaurant together recently - it's not great but it will work), and four others showing family life. I picked out some really good recent ones of us with Logan at a park and strawberry farm but when I read the guide again, it said no sunglasses on and all of them either I or Tony was wearing our sunglasses. So, I'm going to ask someone to take some pictures of us maybe tonight and I'll send them off to be printed. We also have to turn in passport size photos of the two of us.
Kricket forwarded us this link today regarding international adopton and how well these children adapt.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Lots of things were done today and new information was given to us.
First, I went this morning to get a new passport photo. Tony said my photo was the worst photo he had ever seen of me. I knew it was bad but for him to say this, I knew it was really bad, so I went to Eckerd's and spent $8 this time for only 2 shots. I then went to the Kernersville Post Office to apply. I had my application done but I couldn't sign it without the postmaster seeing it first. This cost $67 for the US Dept of State and $30 for the Postmaster. Tony went later in the day and done his too....total cost today for passports $194.
I took Logan to the zoo for Mother/Son time. I needed to get away from all the adoption paper work anyway and spend time with him. I took him to a book store also after the zoo and he got a new Thomas book and we bought a Lady Bug book - forgot the name of it - for our new addition to our family.
When I got home, it was time to round up our references. We had heard through other adoption parents that if the notaries commission expires before the trip to China, this could be a problem. So, I asked the DC about this. Turns out she wasn't so concerned about this than she was us using a notary with the same last name. Tony's mom was notarizing for us. This meant we had to find a new notary.
We decided to call the notary that my pastor used on his reference for us. We had to get two of our references together. I printed their references they emailed to me, called them, and they met up with the notary and Tony at the notary's home. She said she wouldn't charge us and will probably be doing the rest of our notary work for us.
This brought out another problem. I've already had to write two letters to our physician about our medical reports and now since our notary on the medical forms had our same last name, I was going to have to get these notarized again. I called the dr's office and they did not keep a copy nor did I have a copy without the notary signing. I had to reprint more medical forms. I barely made it to the dr's office today at 5 pm to hand them over the forms. They know us now by looking as me. I walked in and the receptionist said "are you Mrs. Hooker" before I even said anything. They haven't even got my 2nd letter I mailed to them yet asking for tons of info about our past surgeries and all the medicines we're on that has to be written up on letter head all details.
I also talked to the DC today and found out when the forms are notarized they have to have this:
This document was subscribed to and sworn to before me this the _____day of_________2005.
Printed Name of Notary Signature of Notary
My Commission Expires
Well, guess what? This wasn't on ours. So I called our notary and got her permission and wrote this. She had already signed it and we had all the information on her stamp she had already put on the papers. It just had to be written up this way for NC and we had all the information on there already but not in the correct format.
After this is now on the references, it's close to our home visit. I haven't made copies of the references yet. We tried to scan them but when printed, it didn't print well. Tony is out now locating a fax machine late at night to fax to the SW at her house.
We had our last home visit. It was all financial related and she read over some of the information we had already given her mainly family history. She said we passed and if we weren't approved, it shouldn't be because of anything she has put in the report.
Since Tony starts his new job tomorrow, we're trying to figure out how to write our income for this year. The SW is going to put down gross for the month. I have to report yearly. We also have run into the issue of reports addressing Tony as Tony and not William. William Anthony is the full name but everyone knows him as Tony. All of our references say Tony and we asked the SW to maybe put something in her writeup saying Tony is a nickname and he goes by this.
Wish Tony good luck in his new job. I'm nervous about the commute to Charlotte but it's a better job and he's excited.
Monday, May 23, 2005
First Reference In Our Hands/TB Test
Our pastor hand delivered the first reference to us tonight already notarized. This was exciting news! We need to turn them in tomorrow night at our last home visit to the social worker.
Our personal nurse, Stephanie (Nee-nee as Logan calls her), came to our house to give us the TB tests tonight too. It's nice having a nurse as a neighbor. She was there for me when I was on bedrest while pregnant with Logan due to hypertension and was always checking my blood pressure. She also gave me hcg injections when I was trying to conceive a baby and now I'm getting TB tests at home. We may also get her to give us travel shots that are recommended for when visiting China.
Best Neighbor EVER
I have the best neighbor that anyone could ever have...the Felts. I could go on and on about them.
Stephanie called me just a few minutes ago. I was just looking for her phone number at work when she called. I told her she must have been thinking about me when I picked up the phone. I wanted to ask her about TB tests. Turns out we do need one for our medical forms. We didn't get one while we had our physicals. Stephanie is a nurse and found out she can get them for us at cost from her office. She's bringing them home tonight and testing us. She'll be able to get us printouts showing they were fine and we can give these to the agency. We'll also use her to get our travel shots later.
Stephanie also last night gave me a pair of booties she crochet. She made them in pink. While I was pregnant with Reagan she said she was going to give them to me if I had a girl. I found out she was a girl only a few days before I lost her. I tried to convince Stephanie to give them to another little girl but instead she said our China girl needed them. So, if we get a girl from China, she has her first handmade booties. They are so cute.
We received our dossier guide today. I emailed our DC to set up a time to speak with her about this guide.
Per the guide, we set up a FedEx account. I don't know how to use it but we have an account number now.
I've also discovered that we left out more information that is needed for our medical reports. Per the dr's office, we can send them the information that needs to be included and they'll write it up. We have to explain in separate letters why we had all our surgeries (mainly mine) and why we are on certain medications.
Tony's letter from his new job does not have enough info on it that CCAA needs verifying employment. I also have to state on a separate piece of paper that I'm a homemaker,why, if I plan on going back to work and how I get money to survive and have that notarized.
There's so much information in this guide. It's going to take a while for me to have it memorized.
I'm going to start working on our adoption application letter that is sent in our dossier to China asking them for a child and why we want to adopt.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Our Precious Daughter Reagan - Made Perfect in Heaven
This post really doesn't have anything to do with our adoption story but I wanted to add this in for our viewers that may have also decided that adoption was the way to go after battling infertility and losses. I added two links to our blog on the right side for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness and the March of Dimes website. I received an email today from March of Dimes detailing how much money they raised this year during their WalkAmerica walk-a-thon - $101 million. I thought this was amazing. The weekend after we lost Reagan Tony and I walked over 6 miles and raised over $500 between the two of us. We raised this much in 7 days. We did this in honor of our daughter that died from Triploidy. There are lots of babies that die each year due to birth defects. We plan on walking every year in honor of our daughter and the twins we lost to m/c.
Before I became pregnant with Reagan, we had already discussed adopting from China. We had been to two local adoption agencies and decided domestic adoption wasn't for us. I think Tony is planning on writing later why we decided on China instead of any of the other countries we could chose from. We were ready to send off our application the week we found out I was pregnant with Reagan. We miss her so much and I know she knows this. I hope she's watching over our new addition in China who is waiting to come live with us and to have a family that will love her.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
3rd Home Study Visit
Today we had our third visit with the social worker from Nathanson's. She came to our house today. It was a short meeting - maybe 45 minutes. She first asked us some questions that she had left off from the 2 previous meetings. Then she asked us some general questions about our house like square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, etc. She tried to talk to Logan for a little while but he was grumpy. He wouldn't talk to her. She asked him if he wanted a brother or sister to come live with him and it took a while to answer but he later said "I want to share my toys." Logan first showed her his Thomas bedroom. The SW asked him where the baby would sleep and his first answer was in his bed but then he later said in his crib. We showed her the extra bedroom where the crib is already set up and then showed her our bedroom. She briefly looked in the kitchen and then we went downstairs to our basement where she looked at the playroom and our computer room. None of the bathrooms were looked at and that's where I spent the majority of the time cleaning. We have one visit left which will be Tuesday night.
I've had several ask me about the story behind Lady Bugs. Lady Bugs have been said to bring good luck. The Chinese Adoption community refers to Lady Bug sitings as something good is coming soon. Some are waiting on referrels or some may be waiting on 171H form from USCIS. When we first decided China was right for us, Tony mentioned to me he wanted to decorate her nursery with Lady Bugs. I asked him "why" also b/c I didn't know the symbolic meaning behind them. Since we indicated to Harrah's and during our home study that sex didn't matter, I'd rather not decorate the nursery too girlish just in case we did get a boy. We don't really care but knowing the history behind Chinese adoption, we're assuming we'll get a girl.
Here's a cute website about lady bugs and Chinese adoption.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Passport Photos and Getting Ready for the Home Visit
We had our passport photos made today at the photo developing area in K-Mart off Wendover in Greensboro, NC. Both of us were wearing white and the background was white so our faces and hair really stand out in the picture. Logan wanted his picture made too but since he's not going, he didn't get to. Each photo was $6.99 each and we got 6 2x2's of each of us.
Our Home Visit is tomorrow at 2 pm. We've been cleaning our house so much today that I feel like I've been to aerobic classes from working so hard. I think Tony is even passed out right now on the couch. Logan is not helping at all. He brings out more stuff faster than we can put it away. I don't know how some people keep their homes spic-n-span with little ones around. My child loves to destroy everything. Since we've been cleaning this evening, he's managed to spill out all the pieces to Cooties and Pop-Up Piratte. I've found Cooties legs and other pieces in three rooms already. He has dropped crumbs everywhere too from snacking. I can't wait until our Home Study is complete. We don't live in a pig sty but I want my house to really look good when our social worker visits so that's why we are working so hard to get it really clean.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Update to Physician Report
According to our DC, we need to have a letter from our physician explaining that we are still fit to adopt even though our liver function tests are marked abnormal on the reports. Even though it is written that we do not have hepatitis and other liver function tests were normal, it is still required that the doctor explain that we are being retested and healthy to adopt. I have written a letter to Walkertown Family Practice to write a letter for both me and Tony explaning this. I figured this would be easier than trying to explain over the phone to the staff and nurses plus this form is not urgent anyways. The form we needed for Nathanson's is okay and ready to be turned in except for our signatures.
Other Forms Received Today
Tony received his letter from Signature Consultants verifying his employment with Wachovia. This was needed to verify his income since we will not have a paycheck from them before our last home study visit since he is changing jobs on 5/25.
I also got copies of our physician reports needed for Nathanson's and Harrah's. It was a good thing I picked it up b/c one of the sheets was not signed by the MD. However, we've run into a small problem. Tony and I both showed elevated liver enzymes and they cultured it with nothing wrong but said to retest in 2-3 months. The NP marked it abnormal. I emailed our DC to ask if this would be a problem with adopting and she said no BUT we either need to get the dr to mark Normal on another sheet or have them write another explanation that we are fit to adopt even though the last question that asks "Is the applicant's health suitable for raising a child?" is marked YES.
I'm waiting to hear back from the DC what is acceptable as far as the explanation goes on this test.
We received a letter today from Department of Homeland Security with our receipt of payment to USCIS saying 5/18/05 is our filing date. Our application will be placed in chronological order, by the date of filing for processing and we will receive notification for an iterview and/or fingerprint scheduling by mail. Tony estimates our 171H will be here possibly by August.
T-shirts and Magnets
I mailed off this morning a check to buy Tony and myself t-shirts with Harrah's name on it. They are raising money to support their AIM Charities.
I also ordered a new car magnet to support the Red Thread. This money is going towards supporting Children in China also. http://home.bellsouth.net/p/s/community.dll?ep=16&groupid=240180&ck= It will go nicely with my Support the Troops magnet and Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness magnet on the back of my van.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Trip to Raleigh
We just got an email that our Dossier Consultant wil be in Raleigh on June 17 to meet and speak to HFS families. We'll still be in the paperchase then so we're definitely going to go and ask questions and meet other families using this agency.
Overview of the Adoption Process from China.
In Melissa's last post, she mentioned a Dossier Consultant. For those of you not familiar with the process involved in an international adoption you might be wondering "What is a dossier? What is all this stuff they are talking about" I'll give you A very, very brief Primer on the paperwork and process.
Well, Essentially, there are 5 parties who we need to make happy in this whole process. Each of whom has their own guidelines, that can differ from one another.
In No particular order:
The Adoption Agency - In our case, Harrahs Family Services.
They are the primary liaison with China, as well as with Our Home Study Agency. They have their own set of guidelines about who can adopt. We must be approved by them to even begin the process.
The Home Study Agency - In our case, Nathanson Family Services
They perform the Home Study, and help us collect a lot of the information that needs to go to the USCIS as part of that Home Study. They also have their own guidelines they use to determine who will be recommended for adoption.
State of North Carolina - Each State has their own guidelines about How some of the paperwork is handled. Some states you have to Legally Readopt once the child comes to the US, in others it is automatic.
USCIS - United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is what some people used to call INS, but its now a part of the Homeland Security Department. Each office has their own processing timelines and rules, but they are the main government entity on the US side giving approval for us to adopt. We have to give them a form called an I-600a (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition), the Completed Home Study as well as our fingerprints. Roughly 3 months or so later (And that varies from one USCIS office to another) We will get back an approval, in the form of a 171-H form. (No idea what the formal title is.)
China Center of Adoption Affairs - This is an agency within the government of the People's Republic of China. After we get our 171-H from the USCIS, we get to file a Dossier with the CCAA. The dossier consultant that Melissa mentioned will assist us in preparing it.
In order to prepare the Dossier, we have to get the following documents:
* A letter to the officials of China stating your intent to adopt (notarized)* Birth certificates (not notarized)* Marriage Certificate (if applicable) (not notarized)* Financial statement (notarized)* Letter from your employer verifying your employment with salary stated (or CPA's letter of self employment) or letter stating non-employment (notarized)* Letter from doctor stating the applicants health and fitness to adopt (notarized)* Police clearance letter(s) (notarized)* Home study (notarized)* Copy of I-171H with affidavit (notarized)* Copy of adoptive parent(s) passport* Family life photos (not notarized, verified or authenticated)
Almost all of those documents has to be Notarized when we get them. After that, we have to have them certificated by the State of North Carolina. Then, we have to have them Certificated by the Chinese Consulate here in the US. After all that is done, Harrah's can compile the completed Dossier and submit it to the CCAA.
When the Dossier gets to China and is translated, It receives a Log In Date (LID). This is the date it is officially in the CCAA's system. 5-7 months after that, we will get a Referral. The Referral tells us what child we will be matched with. Gives a brief description of the child, their medical history, and we get some pictures as well.
2-4 weeks later, we would get Travel Approval from the CCAA, and Harrahs would also make an appointment with the Consulate for our travel group to go over.
4-6 weeks after travel approval, we actually fly over to China, and meet our newest child. It takes about 2 weeks over there for all the paperwork to be completed and approved.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Just received this email from HFS
Hi William and Melissa,
Congratulations! You are one step further in the
process. Today I mailed you a dossier guide, as well
as other documents to assist you in completing your
dossier. Our dossier consultant Kim Sumrow will be
contacting you about all the aspects of your dossier
preparation. HFS-AIM adopters have found a dossier
preparation service to be efficient, accurate, &
economical. Accurate contents of all documents are
especially important because of China's guidelines.
Hopefully this packet will come soon. We're ready for our next to do list.
Logan and I made a frog at Build-A-Bear today. If you read a previous post not far back, you'll know Logan came up with the name "Froggy" for our new baby coming. Well, he named our new frog today "Froggy" too. The birth certificate is made out to belong to our new baby from Logan. I know it's going to be a while before she/he gets here but our new addition already has a stuffed animal to cuddle.
Also, while we were at the mall, I came across some Precious Moments dolls dressed in outfits from different countries. I looked for one from China and didn't see one so I asked the worker there. She looked it up in her computer and said the last one sold was in 2002. She then pulled out her books and found that there was a China doll. She is ordering one for me. Here's a picture of her on this link below. The dolls name is Mei Mei. I've been told Mei means beautiful but Mei Mei means sister.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
2nd Home Study
This evening we met with our social worker for the 2nd time. Tonight's questions asked about our schedules, childcare issues, preschool, discipline, telling our child about adoption, and some other parenting subjects. It was a short meeting tonight. Our next two meetings will be at our house this upcoming Sunday and next Tuesday.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Tony briefly wrote we had our physicals today. I think this was probably the first time this nurse practitioner as well as the office had done adoption physicals. We took Logan with us and the NP eventually asked Tony to take him out to the waiting area so she could handle one physical at a time without a 3 year old running around and talking. She was asking me about all my pregnancies and why I had lost them. I don't know why I had my first miscarriage and she had never heard of Triploidy herself and I had to keep explaining to her I couldn't go through this again, not right now. She asked why I couldn't get pregnant on my own and if I knew what PCOS was. Of course I know what this is. I probably know more than she does about PCOS. It was really frustrating talking to her about this and I told Tony I didn't want to see her again. When it came time for the lab, the lab tech asked me out loud why I had to have an HIV test. I hope no one heard. She asked me if it was b/c I was exposed to it. I quickly said No and it was required on some forms the NP had to fill out for our adoption. That was a bit embarassing. And it doesn't matter how many times I tell a lab tech I have horrible veins and to use a butterfly needle, they always want to try themselves with the other needle and of course I get stuck several times. Anyway, at least this is all over and done with. Hopefully we'll get the papers back this week.
First Home Study and Physicals
Well, Sunday afternoon, we had our first home study meeting with the local social worker. Strange part is that we did it at her house, not ours. I figured with it being called a home study, it would be at OUR home. Well, 3 more appointments to go with that, and at least 2 of them will be at our house.
Probably took longer than it should have, because we had to list family members. Since so many people in Melissa's family have been married multiple times, I think we ended up getting the social worker confused. Probably the first time she's had to do a home study where a person has 2 half sisters, 2 step sisters, 2 step brothers, and a half brother and still be an only child. We should have brought in a flowchart to explain it.
Also, today, we got our physicals done. Took a while, but nothing too unusual. Just have to wait on lab results to come back so we can get the doctor to sign it and have it notarized.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Our Baby is Named
Tony and I were sitting on the couch with Logan tonight and asked Logan "What do you want to name the new baby that comes to live with us?" He quickly answered "Froggy." Tony and I both laughed. Some people name their babies in the womb a cute nickname before they know their sex. Now we have a nickname for our baby overseas. We will not be keeping that as a real name but it's cute for now to use when we talk about her/him.
I-600A IN THE MAIL TODAY
Finally, we have mailed off our I-600A. It's still waiting on the homestudy. That should be sent from Nathanson's to the USCIS office.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
I-600A & Medical Reports
We learned we filled out some of the I-600A wrong. Instead of sending it with pen mark-outs, we'll have to print another form and fill it out so it's not going out in the mail now until at least tomorrow so Tony can sign it.
I also made appointments for us to get our physicals. It will be next Monday. I'm trying to find out if these reports need to be notarized b/c if they do I may have to carry a notary with us or find out if the dr's office has one there.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
First Home Study Scheduled / New Toy for Logan
We received information in the mail today from Kim Miller with Nathanson Adoption Services. I called her and we have setup our first meeting at her house in Clemmons, NC for this upcoming Sunday. There will be two meetings at her house, one at ours and another somewhere else. China requires four visits. I received forms for our medical release. We dropped off one for Logan at Dr. Satterwhite's today and they are going to mail it back to us when it's complete. He doesn't need a physical since he just had his 3 year check up. I'll call tomorrow to set up physical's for me and Tony. I also need to get my references together and make sure the ones we've asked can still do this. I need them by the 4th home study visit.
We bought Logan a new toy for his Thomas and Friends wooden railroad - the Chinese dragon. At first he said it was scary but then he changed his mind and said it wasn't scary. Today he told us he wanted to go to China and he would share his toys with his new sister or brother. He's ready for a baby to come live with us.
Frustration with the I-600A
Most of this morning Tony and I spent time trying to get everything on the I-600A and copies made and checks written but it's not going out today. I got an email from HFS saying our home study had to be completed first. We had heard differently so I called Nathanson. She said no, it doesn't have to be completed first but it does sit and wait on the home study before it is completely filed. I was told to call the director tomorrow, Helene, to go over our I-600A to make sure we have everything we need on it so that doesn't hold us up if we left something off. Hopefully tomorrow we can send this off and we'll hear something soon about when our home study will be done.
FINALLY Received Birth Certificates and Marriage Certificate
Fed Ex brought our birth certificates and marriage certificate today. We're ready to mail off the I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. However, we are questioning if we need to mail in the $70 each for fingerprinting with it. The cost for mailing this out is $525. Total for us would be $665. Also the application mentions we should have the home study approval. We heard we didn't need that yet. I'm also trying to find out more on this. Hopefully some of the yahoo groups I'm on will email me back this morning with the information.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Our agency agreement is going out in the mail tomorrow. Tony is getting his mother to notarize the agreement for us this evening. Also being sent to Harrah's is more information on us, information on the home study agency we chose and the name of the social worker, our signatures to the refund policy and our post-agency agreement. We had to mail in $1900 which is 50% of the agency fee and $300 for the Dossier Consultant fee.
We're still waiting on copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate. We needs these to send in the I600A. We may make some trips tomorrow to pick them up ourselves instead of waiting on NC Vital Records to send these to us.
We've been assigned a social worker, Kim Miller, now with Nathanson Adoption Services. Now we're just waiting to hear from her and when she'll be coming out. I've got some major cleaning to do around the house before she arrives.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
In our packet of info from HFS, it has an approval form for your Home Study agency. Uh oh! (as our son would say) We have already sent in an application to Nathanson. I'm sure everything will be okay b/c Tony had already emailed HFS to ask if Nathanson was a good agency to use. HFS is in TX and we have to have our Home Study done by a NC Social Worker so that's why we've chosen Nathanson. On the approval form we need to know Name of Social Worker and info on this person, Director of Agency, and several other questions about the agency. I emailed Nathanson this morning and if I don't hear back from them by Monday afternoon, I'll call so we can mail this form out Monday.
This weekend we also need to get our agency agreement notarized. When we mail in this agreement we will be sending 50% of the agency fee plus the Dossier Consultant fee.
Friday, May 06, 2005
Criminal Records - DONE / More Info from HFS
We were able to get our Criminal Records checked today - $10 for each of us. This was the easiest to obtain so far. The only hard part of that was finding a place to park and finding out where to go in the building.
We also received our packet of information from HFS. We have an agency contract to sign and received a list of what to do next and a schedule for payments. We'll probably sign the contract tonight and mail in our first payment to HFS tomorrow. After this is received by HFS, we should get assigned a dossier consultant.
Today marks one month anniversary since we lost our Daughter, Reagan, at 19 weeks gestation to Triploidy. I think about her everyday and how nothing will ever replace her. As we work towards our adoption, I think about the age our adopted child will be and if she (or he maybe) might be the same age Reagan would be. I heard a quote this past weekend that said one way to help cope with grief of a loss is to give life to someone else. That's our goal right now. I want to give a life to another child and raise her in a free country and give her a good home and smother her with all the love we have to offer plus some. There's another child out there for us and our angels are going to help lead us to her.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Criminal Records Check
We are both heading off to get our criminal records check done in the morning. Its Downtown, at the "Hall of Justice" Building. Yes, the name sounds like a place that Superheroes would be hanging out at, but its all just courtrooms with lawyers judges and clerks.
Luckily, this is one of the light ones cost wise, about 10 bucks each. Other than minor traffic related problems several years back, our records should be spotless.
I need to email Harrahs to make sure we don't need more than one copy each.
Home Study Application cont.
Our Home Study application was completed and mailed today to Nathanson Adoption Services. We paid $300 extra to get it done in 1-2 weeks instead of 8-12 weeks. Cost of Home Study - $1700.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Home Study Application/References
We have chosen to go with Nathanson Adoption Services for our Home Study. http://www.nathansonadopt.com/
Our application is complete except for finding out our IRA values and how much life insurance Tony has on himself at work. We should be able to mail this out tomorrow, but if not, then definitely by Friday.
We don't have all the documents needed for the social worker that comes out but we're working on this. We are required to have three references. We've already chosen three - two confirmed at this time. It had to be someone that knew both Tony and myself and could not be family. We chose Mary and Lee Griffith since they have been great friends to us since we joined our church, Love's UMC. Mary knows how much we want more children. She was with me through many of the infertilty struggles and loosing our precious daughter. We also have chosen Mary's sister, Jane Wells, who has also been a great friend to us. Jane was my Parent Educator after I had Logan until she changed jobs and we've been friends since. We chose Jane since she has witnessed our parenting beliefs and knows also how much we want more children and our battle with infertily and losses. There are other reasons why we've chosen these two families but I can't list them all. They know how much they mean to us. :) I think their family has even "adopted" us into their family.
I know that some people who aren't familiar with overseas adoptions are probably wondering about some of the numbers Melissa threw around in previous posts.
The full total is generally in the neighborhood of 15,000.
15,000 Sounds like a lot, but compared to most other countries, its not that bad. For example, an adoption from Russia generally runs in the 30,000 range.
And the way we looked at it, Yes its a bit more expensive than what we would pay out of pocket for a normal pregnancy/birth. Its about the same as what someone would pay for a normal pregnancy/ birth + basic fertility treatments. And 15,000 is about what advanced fertility treatments can run each month, if you get to the invitro fertilization level.
And honestly, most people spend more than that on a car that you might keep 10 years. But parenthood? That is forever. And a lot more important.
I've been researching loans. It seems right now our best bet with our great credit is to get a credit card with 0 percent interest for 12 months. I applied with Citi. It should take about four weeks before we know. We have excellent credit so getting a loan is no problem but getting it the limit we need might be. We plan on paying the smaller expenses out of pocket. The tax credit once the adoption is complete will help pay the majority of our expenses.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Application approved by Harrah's
Today we received notification that our application was received and accepted by Harrah's AIM. We are waiting for more documents to be sent to us by mail. These documents include:
--To Do List
--Summary Information Sheet
--Agreement of Understanding
--Choosing Qualified Social Worker
--Home Study Agency Approval Form
We also joined Harrah's AIM yahoo group. We've already chosen an agency to do our Home Study but need to wait on our birth certificates to arrive before we can send off our application to them.
I received this also from Harrah's today through email.
Dear William and Melissa,
Thank you for your payment of $150.00, check#1028, to
be applied to your total expenses for your adoption
from China. We sincerely appreciate being allowed to
assist you in the creation of your family. Your
remaining balance is; $5,215.00 and is due before your
dossier is sent to China.
Harrah's Adoption International Mission
Tony gave me an early Mother's Day gift. He gave me a charm for my Zoppini bracelet - flag for the People's Republic of China. We're both so excited about becoming parents again.