Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paperwork and Pink Things

Oh my heck,
We are almost there.

Hoping for immigration approval soon. We submitted our 1600a on April 26th, and our homestudy was received nearly 2 weeks ago, yet we STILL have not received fingerprinting appointments. We're hoping to get the letter Tuesday, walk in on Wednesday, and have approval by next week.

Oh, and we just might be doing what's called a "married single" adoption. This essentially means that I would be traveling to Ukraine alone. Why? Because Donald has training in August that he CAN NOT get out of. On our current timeline, we would most likely get a travel date in late July or early August. Yes, we could petition for a new date, but Donald's training won't be complete until mid-September... do we really want to wait THAT much longer? Nope, so we're looking into me flying solo. Literally. Heh.

On a lighter note, I'm having fun filling my online shopping carts full of frilly things. Once we have an SDA appointment we'll actually purchase, but for now I'm contently window-shopping my heart out.

Oh, and I reeally love matching them, a lot. If I they can cutely coordinate, I'm sold.

(the colors look slightly off, but they match in person)

I could get myself into a lot of trouble shopping for little girls. Good thing my husband's a financial grinch. We balance each other out.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Where are the Mormons?

My strong convictions are biased by my personal experiences, and I admit that.

Seeing others not living up to my particular brand of expectations can sometimes trigger a strong finger-pointing-response in me, and the only means of combating it is to remind myself of whatever easily-judgeable skeletons I have hiding nearest me at the time (or, you know, not so hidden ones. Like my sink of dirty dishes), and that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father. Essentially, I'm careful to remember that we're all just different shades of faulted; none of us better or worse than the next. Each of us is called to different things, and there are many different beautiful ways to do good in the world.

So setting judgment aside, let's talk about orphans. The 150 million orphans, some starving and dying, but all lost and forgotten. The least of these. The children Christ, again and again, commanded us to care for. 150 million. In crowded orphanages, foster homes, and on the streets. Without love, no amount of food and medication can help these children. Man cannot live on bread alone, and neither can his children. They need families, unconditional love, support, education, nurturing, and positive models. These children need mothers.

And I find myself having to ask... Where are the Mormons?

We devoutly preach the teachings of Christ in our churches and homes and, more so than any religion or denomination I've come across, we emphasize the importance of family. From birth, we lovingly teach our children of God's love for us, and how we should strive to mirror Christ's love for us in the way we treat our family. Consider all the Children's Hymns that speak of families. Most notably on my mind lately are the words to "Love is Spoken Here":

"I see my mother kneeling, with our family each day
I hear the words she whispers, as she bows her head to pray
Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears

And I am thankful, love is spoken here"

But what about the millions of precious children every year who are orphaned by death, or abandonment?

Does our Savior not want them to have the same peace and love, and to be free from fear?

For me, prior to becoming a Mormon, adopting was high on my list of dreams. For years prior to marrying, I had little desire to even have biological children.
Then I was married. I had a wonderful life, and was very comfortable and happy. Slowly, my priorities changed and I began looking forward to my little newborn, created and welcomed into the world with love. And so that became our focus.
Adoption, after all, can be so difficult and expensive... and well, we were newlyweds stationed in Germany, and conceiving was natural and far more reasonable than adopting.

Thankfully, God had very different plans for our family, and we had troubles with fertility. I think all children are gifts from God, and would gladly accept a pregnancy right now if that were in his plan for me. I don't feel that He wants us to stop procreating (quite the contrary! :-), but His orphans are also out there. It's easy to see injustice and pain in the world when it's been brought to you, and I look back now and see how easily I could have been swept away by my own comfortable circumstances, never to consider the world's forgotten again, and it frightens me.

I see it everywhere in the LDS church. We're a happy people. We love our families, we thrive on structure and tradition, and gee golly do we love getting our fairy tail endings, lol.

LDS Family Services, for example, offers such a wonderful resource to birth mothers hoping to provide their children with a stable family environment which they couldn't otherwise provide.
Further hoping to simplify the pain of infertility for members of our church, the financial cost of adopting through LDS Family services is subsidized by tithing funds. I love this! Forming families is a high priority to our church! However, when taking a step back, I can't help but wonder why so much effort and money is put into finding children for families instead of families for children. True, there are 150 million orphans, but most come with various imperfections (most notably, not being infants), and that can be a hugely detracting factor for someone in the Mormon culture, so strongly conditioned to want things the way they should be.

Things the way they should be. The only thing more comforting than that idea, is knowing that the lives of my future children will be almost the way they should be once they're adopted. No child deserves to have suffered as an unwanted orphan, and all I can offer them is being an orphan-no-more, and hope for their future in a family where "Love is Spoken".

From a non-denominational, evangelical Christian background, I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was 18 years old. I have seen first hand the great and wonderful things that the LDS church does every day, both for its members and non-members alike. Its expansive humanitarian and welfare programs have been a blessing in the lives of millions worldwide.

But a church can't give families to children. Only its members can. We are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are His hands and His feet, and our Heavenly Father's forgotten are out there waiting for us.

So again I ask,
Where are the Mormons?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chugging Along

I "fixed" our unruly scanner this morning! No more sending expensive faxes to get our documents approved before apostilling (? Please, can someone verify the correct spelling? I've read it 7 different ways and the dictionary has no opinion).

So this morning I'm scanning $80 worth of dossier documents (our CSPs and POAs) to our state-side facilitator (Nancy! She's wonderful!), and hopefully this afternoon I will be sending all our documents obtained in Washington off to be apostilled.

We still have a few simpler documents to notarize and aposstile, but we'll be doing them on Fort Lewis, for FREE (we love free!) and thus will be sending them of to Washington DC for aposstiling instead of Washington state.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Difficult Decisions

The country we're adopting from is extremely unstable right now. Donald has training (which he can't get out of, ugh) in August, so we can't risk submitting our dossier in June (as it would likely result in an August travel date).

We're still waiting to hear whether HIV+ children we be included as a special need under the new law that outlaws the adoption of children under 5 without special needs.

Huge changes (of unknown form and degree) are scheduled to take place on June 15th.

Assuming nothing actually changes (in terms of paperwork for us), we'd be submitting our dossier in late July or early August, with a travel date (presumably) in the fall.

Which leaves zero room for error, as Donald deploys next summer. We'd like at least a few months of bonding time before daddy leaves for a year.

And that's assuming Brigitte and Virginia (the girls we placed commitment paperwork in for) remain adoptable. In the current climate, it seems not-so-unlikely that they could become ineligible for adoption between now and then. Just today, a parent arrived in-country with the impression she was adopting two specific children, only to be told one was not available.

So we face some difficult decisions.

If we give up on adopting these two girls - well, we're giving up on them. Giving up. Just thinking it makes me feel despicable... but at what point do I start making calculated and logical decisions, instead of letting my heart string me along and into ruins?

If this adoption goes south a few months down the road, it won't leave us time to complete another adoption (and could we afford a different country?) before Donald deploys. Pushing off parenthood for another 12+ month deployment? We'd then be starting the process all over again, then completing an adoption in 2013-ish.

I just don't have the patience. Or the willpower. Or the strength of heart and mind.

After 5 years of infertility and struggling to adopt, I just feel so... forgotten by God.
The infertility, I was fine with. Seriously. It sucked, but I quickly got past it. There are kids who need families, and parenthood has little to do with expelling a child from your uterus. Message received.

But every single step of our journey being filling with roadblocks? We would have had a child home from Eastern Europe by now if Donald's last tour of duty hadn't been needlessly extended (and I do mean needlessly. He sat in Arizona for months after coming back from Afghanistan. He was doing NOTHING - just waiting for orders, which had been deleted, to be reinstated so he could return home to his duty station).

So... why all the drama, God? Surely, He has reasons. Why I remain in the dark... I've yet to realize. I'm worn out from playing the drama queen role, and I really hope he knows that. We're ready for a nice, quiet, simple life.

So will we continue with our plans to adopt from Eastern Europe?

I just have no freakin idea any more. And I'm burnt out.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Healthy Children" Under 5 No Longer Adoptable

We got word that today, in the nation we're adopting from, a law was passed which prohibits any children under the age of 5 without special needs from being adopted by foreigners.

Whether to count HIV as a special need seems obvious from my perspective, but the jury is still out in Eastern Europe.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Carseat Geek Fulfillment

Brigitte has a carseat!

Let me preface this entry by telling everyone what a huge nerd I am about car seat safety. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death, overwhelmingly, for children under the age of 14. As a parent-in-waiting, I plan on taking a few simple steps to prevent my kids from becoming victim to that reality. I couldn't live with myself if the unthinkable happened, knowing that I could have potentially prevented it.
Some have questioned why I'm even bothering to purchase a carseat for an almost-4-year-old child (she can just be in a backless booster, can't she?), but it's then that I remind people how legal standards and cultural norms don't necessarily equate to safety.
It wasn't long ago that even seat belts weren't mandated, and booster seats? Har har! What paranoid parents!

So here's what we just purchased, via :

It normally MSRPs for $279 (uh, no thank you!), but is regularly on sale for $209 (Amazon is always a good bet). However, thanks to the Extended Rear Facing group on BabyCenter, I found a coupon code, stackable on sale items, that brought it down to $167. Oh, and free shipping.

The Britax Frontier has the highest 5-point restraint capabilities, both for height and weight, on the market. She'll fit in the harness well into the school age years. After that, it converts into booster mode up to 64" and 120 pounds. Shoot, if I went on a diet I could use this thing!

I'm super excited. Sadly, the only sacrifice I had to make was fabric color. Simple, sophisticated, plain ol' black was soooold out.

Bummer! The tan looked gross, IMO, so I went with the lesser of evils available: Cowmooflage.

Aside from the obvious safety features, my favorite thing is that you can adjust the harness height without having to re-thread the seat. Anyone who's had to undo a rock-solid carseat install to re-thread a seat knows how awesome that feature is.

If anyone wants to learn more about the benefits of keeping your kids harnessed beyond the toddler years, here are a few videos I've found that I like. I'll warn you though, they mention children who have died in boosters... terribly sad, and entirely preventable. :-(

 has a coupon code you can stack on top of sale items right now. If you go to (their sister-site) and add a small filler item for a dollar or two, you can then add the code MAKEMYDAY for greater savings. The code will work without adding a item, but the discount increases further if you do. A savings of 40ish percent and free 2 day shipping?! You can't beat that! ...just wanted to share! :-D Hopefully someone else can get good use out of this awesome sale & code combo!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Girls

Donald and I submitted our commitment paperwork to Reece's Rainbow yesterday to adopt two little girls. Brigitte and Virgina are their names (for now, teehee), and they are darling. The odds of losing their referral like we did the boys is extremely low, but we're trying our best to remember that adoption from their country can be very unpredictable, and it's the small risk we must take for them.

Both girls were listed on Reece's Rainbow shortly before we lost the referral for Eli.
I maintain: there are no coincidences, only master plans.

Our Family Sponsorship Page on Reece's Rainbow can be found here.
All donations we receive will be paid forward in full, to another adopting family, when we receive next year's tax return.

And as always; prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts, and crossed fingers are hugely appreciated.

This little girls turns 4 next month.

VirginiaSweet Virginia is 24 months old.

They're going to be so much fun to dress up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adoption Paperwork Update

Here's where we're at:

After reading and re-reading through our homestudy draft (including a read-over and edit by our facilitator), we just submitted the final revised copy to our social worker. Hopefully, we'll now receive a notarized hard copy of that final draft by Friday, and on Monday we will have it over-nighted to immigration to be added to our 1-600a application (which we have already submitted)!

All of the following dossier documents have already been completed:

1. My medical form
2. Criminal clearances
3. Proof of home ownership
4. Proof of mortgage
5. Marriage certificates
6. Employment verification
(er... it's filled out appropriately, but still requires notarization)

What remains:

1. Donald's medical form
(Which is a pain in the butt, for reasons I'll blog about later).
2. CSPs (Child Specific Petitions?)
Our requests for specific children we submit to the SDA.
- We can't fill our a CSP until we know who we're adopting, now can we? (more news on that later!)
3. Power of Attorney
Donald will be flying home after court, and I'll finish the remainder of the process alone. This requires appropriate powers of attorney.
4. Notarized copies of our passports.
5. Notarized copies of our tax returns.
6. Notarized Interpol form
(Giving them permission to obtain information about us).

Numbers 2-6 of our remaining items are extremely simple. They're forms we print out and take down to be notarized. We'll most likely complete them this Saturday.

So here's what I'm hoping our remaining timeline will look like:

Friday, 5/13:
Receive our final homestudy draft
Saturday, 5/14:
Get remaining items 2-6 notarized
Monday, 5/16:
Overnight completed homestudy to immigration for I-600a
*Wait and pray that immigration expedites this process and grants us approval - our 171h - quickly. That completes our dossier and allows us to submit to our kiddo(s) country!*
Monday, 5/16:
Mail out mortgage document to Iowa to be apostilled.

Late May:
(...after Donald's medical form is complete) - Mail all notarized documents obtained in Washington to be apostilled.
Late May:
If we don't receive confirmation that our 1-600a is being expedited, I write my congressional representative, and promise all but my soul to intervene and speed up the process for us.

Early June:
(and this is where hopeful speculation comes in:)
Receive our golden ticket from immigration: our 171h!
Submit our dossier to be translated and submitted to the SDA in-country!
*wait for a travel date*
1-3 weeks later:
receive a travel date

And *hopefully* be traveling in July!

....and land back on American soul with my babies in August!

Everything past next week is pure speculation, but it's optimistically realistic speculation.

Pray, pray, pray!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Commitment/Referral Process

is agonizing.

I had almost forgotten how hard it is to decide which children you intend to provide a family for, and which to leave behind.

Even as we inch closer to making the final decision, we're having doubts. We were so gung-ho on round 1. The decision was clear on which children we were supposed to commit to, and there was no fear of "what if" involved. Now, we're trying to remove ourselves as much as we can without hindering our receptiveness to spiritual promptings. Keeping a level head, not getting too attached, yet still remaining open to the whisperings of a higher power? They conflict on various levels.

Then you take two very different people such as Donald and I, and it makes things all sorts of fun. If it was up to Donald, we'd wait until the same day of court to even consider who want to adopt (which, can you blame him?). I, on the other hand, am pushover for these kids. I'd put the paperwork in today for half an orphanage if I could.

But no matter what, lots of heart-string-tugging orphans will be left behind. :-(

Friday, May 6, 2011

Battle On

"We must not sink beneath our anguish, but battle on."
-Professor Albus Dumbledore

What were the odds that we'd loose two referrals? Lost referrals are uncommon, but certainly not unheard of. Two, within weeks of each other though? I mean, really?
Not many referrals have been lost back to back like this. If we had selected any other children, we wouldn't be in this position.

So I ask again: what are the chances?

The answer? There are no chances in adoption, only master plans. There is no irony, no bad luck, no injustice. Only things beyond our understanding.

In the first minutes after we received the news, I was so upset. A selfish anger for myself, mostly. It was shortsighted, self-pity at its best. Make no mistake, I am a grateful woman with a very blessed life, but all that came to mind was "Oh God, why??" Of all people, why us? Neither Donald nor myself come from traditional or particularly stable backgrounds. Donald lost his family at a young age, and has no living relatives remaining. My history is less sad and dramatic, but between the two of us, all we want is a family. We want our American dream, darnnit!

But what about their dreams? For every privileged woman like myself, crying about life not unfolding within the parameters of her comfort zone, there are 147+ million children going to bed without families tonight. Many of them face institutionalization or painfully short lifespans, due to medical or developmental challenges they face.
Reality check, Katrina! This isn't about me!

Of all the children we could have fallen in love with, we fell in love with those two beautiful boys for divine reasons.
They lit a fire beneath us. They got us moving in the right direction.

And we're not wavering from that course. There will be no sinking beneath our anguish.
Our child(ren) are out there.

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent prayers, thoughts, emails, comments, phone calls, or texts my way. When things get hard, it sometimes feels like we're alone in this journey... which, in fact, we are not.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fletcher is No Longer Adoptable

We lost the referral for Fletcher today.

Losing a referral is fairly rare, so when we lost Eli last month we were at peace about it. He was being adopted by a Ukrainian family! It was wonderful news!

This is harder. Fletcher has been adoptable for at least two years now (though possibly longer).
And now, one month shy of his 4th birthday, his birth mother has reappeared on the scene. Whether or not they will be reunified is unclear at this point, but he is no longer available for adoption at all.

Please pray with us that his mother is making a genuine and sufficient effort to offer him a stable, healthy, and permanent home. Unfortunately, many parents make idle attempts at parenting which only hurt their children in the long run. Everyone deserves redemption though, and I'm praying that this situation is for the benefit of the little boy I love.

We just found this out today, about an hour ago. I'm heartbroken, and am a complete wreck. Honestly, I'm surprised I'm blogging - lol. We all grieve in our own weird ways though, and here I am.

We haven't decided how, or if, we'll proceed with an adoption from Eastern Europe.
I just want to be a mommy. God knows that. He has a plan, and I'm trying to adapt.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011




Anyone in regular contact with me about this process knows what a nightmare our home study process social worker has been.

Buut we received a draft today! Unfortunately I'm wrist-deep in garden soil at the moment, and have committed to finishing my planting (all these late frosts have delayed things a bit) before reading it myself, but I forwarded it on to our facilitator and I am DANCING in the garden!!!

What got er done? I finally stopped pretending to be a saintly and grateful patron. I told him I was getting frustrated, and politely spelled it out for him. Many thanks to our social worker, my mom (and Brooke on Facebook, lol) for giving me the nudge!

Some times you gotta put your game face on!

...back to the garden!

I-600a Check Cashed

Here's a TINY but exciting (for me!) update:

The Department of Homeland Security cashed our check for our immigration paperwork! We mailed it off over a week ago, and I've been anxiously waiting for it to post!
The transaction date is for Monday (retroactive), but it just showed up. Yay!

An odd thing to be thrilled about, but it means we're another day closer to bringing our chubby-cheeked little boy home!

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