Sunday, March 29, 2009

Language School

We have been researching different programs to start learning Mandarin and one day I found a program for the Nintendo DS! Now we can try and learn some basic Mandarin without spending $350 on Rosetta Stone and the kids have created a profile to learn some as well. I'm hoping we will all learn enough Mandarin to communicate with our new girl while she is making her transition to English.
On a side note; we wrote our caseworker about changing the special needs checklist of what we would accept. We originally asked to be matched with a girl, aged 2 to 6. We have now changed our age range to 4 to 6 years old.
Our home study agency has received our completed packet and is in the process of typing every thing into a nice "life story." We will be having our home visit in a week or so and then waiting a few weeks after that to have the completed copy in our hands. Once we have the final home study and approval, things should start moving quickly.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In the mail

Finally, the home study will be mailed! We had our first visit on February 2nd so all this paperwork took about 6 weeks. A lot of it was done in the first and last two weeks.

Here is what is included in the packet.

*Birth certificates for all family members
*Marriage certificate
*Income tax return
*W-2 forms
*Statement of income difference
*Medical insurance verification
*Photos- immediate family and home
*Driving directions
*Reading agreement (We must read 5 books each)
*Home Study application (14 pages)
*Autobiographies (J- 7 pages, mine- 8 pages)
*Criminal check waiver
*Confirmation of employment
*Reference forms (6)
*School reference form (3)
*Health physicals on all of us
*Preference form (identifying the special needs we would accept)
*Release of information
*Authorization form
*Identifying documentation
*Fee agreement

I forgot to add that some things went directly to our agency. That would include:
*Fingerprinting results
*Child abuse clearances from 5 states and 1 country
*Current state criminal record check
*Federal government criminal record check

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tape, tape and more tape

Thanks to the government (states and federal) I have successfully had 2.5 hours sucked away from my life. Here is the tape I navigated through this morning.

Criminal records check, notarized $29
County clerk certification- verify that the notary is valid $2
Secretary of State- Authenticate that the notary is valid and the county clerk is real $3
US Secretary of State- Apply an authentication to say- Yes, this is the signature of the TN Sec. of State. $8
Chinese Embassy- Authenticate to say this document can be accepted in China because all these signatures and seals are legit. $20

Criminal records check, notarized $10
County Clerk certification- $2
Secretary of State- $10
Houston Chinese Consulate- $20

It took phone calls to each office except the consulate and embassy to verify the address, amount charged and correct procedure. Every office requires a cover letter and self-addressed envelope. The embassy and consulate require overnight delivery and the same for returning the documents.

I guess all this had to be figured out eventually so it is 2 hours now or then but you nearly need a degree to navigate all this! I think I need to write a book.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


We were scheduled to attend our training workshop this last Friday but due to low attendance (read-only us!) they had to cancel it. We were fairly bummed because J had gotten 2 days of leave, my mother-in-law took a day of vacation to keep the kids and we had reserved a hotel near the agency to stay. The next workshop is in April but we have already paid for our oldest son to have a sleep over with school so we will now have to wait until May. The delay is upsetting but I try to think that the timing isn't up to us; we are just along for the ride.

We had planned to participate in our neighborhood garage sale to raise money for our adoption but the May workshop is scheduled for the same day.

We received our last reference letter in the mail this weekend; Yippee! My wonderful, procrastinating husband is nearly finished with the autobiography questions and when he prints a final draft we can finally send in our entire packet!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Moving along

Since posting last we have sent out all of our child abuse clearance and police report clearance requests. Those go directly back to the agency so I'm hoping they have made it there. I've spent 4 solid days doing nothing but paperwork, figuring numbers, tracking down information, etc. to finish all the forms.
J, Emily and I have our physicals scheduled for this week and the boys' physicals are scheduled for next week.
We have received all of our reference letters except one and I am going to call today and gently poke him to send the last one along.
I have my autobiography nearly complete and my procrastinating husband hasn't started his. :)

Once we all get our physicals, get our last reference letter and finish the autobiography we can send in the completed packet and move onto the next step-- Our official home visit and tour! We will be traveling to the adoption agency's office next week for a 8 hour workshop so our goal is get everything completed and hand carry the packet to the workshop so we do not have to rely on the mail.

In the last couple of weeks we have also changed our mind on probably the biggest aspect of our adoption- we changed agencies. We hadn't formally applied to WACAP (we had submitted the pre-application) but did have the full application filled out with the check, addressed, stamped and sitting on the table. It sat for 3 weeks when I finally took it out and shredded it this weekend. For some reason I just had a hesitant feeling about WACAP and despite the wonderful recommendations I've received, something just didn't feel right. I went with my gut and decided to pursue information about other agencies. Several people recommended Families Through International Adoption (FTIA). They are smaller, more personable, have cheaper travel rates and are less expensive for children under 7. WACAP will subsidize adoptions for children aged 7 and over and this was our initial pull to WACAP; this made the adoption much more affordable. But if we decided on a 6 year old little girl we would be paying the full adoption rates and in that case, FTIA was more reasonable.
I have absolutely no doubt that WACAP is a wonderful agency; many people have had wonderful adoptions fulfilled with WACAP and been completely pleased. For us though, I did not feel WACAP was the right agency.

I've spoken with a few people from FTIA on the phone already and they have all be so helpful and eager to answer all of our questions. I have the application filled out, with a check in a stamped envelope and it is going in the mailbox today! We also sat down with the checklist this weekend to mark what special needs we would be willing to accept. We put down our desired child is a 2 to 6 year old girl. We could be a few short months away from seeing our new daughter's face! I thought last night that she is in China now, waiting for us and has no idea we are getting all of our ducks in a row to come pick her up. I can't wait to see the face of the daughter God has chosen for us!