Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SADNESS turned to JOY

This week did not start out well at all for our family.  My favorite brother in law, Phil died suddenly Sunday morning... no warning, no sickness.  Phil was one of the first people that I told of our plans to adopt Z.  He was so happy for us!  He was one of the first to "like" or comment on Facebook anytime I updated this blog or posted about little Z.  Oh how my heart breaks knowing that Z will not meet Phil.  I know that he will be watching from Heaven, but it's not the same.  I miss him already. 

Today my sister Paulette posted this picture of Stella and Phil on her FB page.  This picture reflects exactly how Phil felt about all his nieces and nephews and his kids.  I am sharing this because he was a GREAT man and one that I know would have embraced Z as his nephew.  Please say a prayer for our family.  Losing someone you love is never easy... especially when that someone is your brother (in law) or uncle.   

God must have known we were feeling down this week because I also got some really exciting news to share.  I continue to stand in AWE at how God works.  He is with us through it all! 
    "You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy" (Psalm 30:11)  
There is a woman that I "met" online through our adoption agency that is traveling to a certain orphanage in a certain country on Saturday.  Yes, she is going to meet her daughter who happens to live at the same orphanage as our Z.  She has offered to take a "Hannah Hopes" stuffed animal for our little guy.  Hannah did not want to send Z the animal she picked out for him on her birthday because she wants to give that to him herself, but she carefully picked out a bear that has a rattle in it so he can shake it and hear the noise.  It also is really soft and perfect for him!  She wrote on his tag so hopefully the translator will tell him what it says.  Here is a picture of the animals that will be mailed to this family's house so that she can take them with her on Saturday!  Hannah didn't want her kids at home or the child she will be adopting to feel left out so she found a few more for them.  She is working with the same foundation that we are working with so fingers crossed that we will get an update on him!  She is going to try hard to get a picture of him with his new bear.  Oh what a joyous day that will be!!! 
Here is the picture of the animals being sent.  Now you might be able read the tag.  Please do not post a comment with his name on it if you can see it.  I figure there is no way a name on a picture can be tracked by his country so we are pretty safe.  Just please keep it quiet okay?
I am so thankful that Hannah is able to do this.  We truly needed this excitment especially this week.
As always, I will keep you updated!

Friday, January 25, 2013


Today at 1:24pm I received an email from our placing agency.


 You are officially matched with Z!!!   Hopefully we will get his update soon!"
What a PERFECT way to end the week :-). 
Tuesday our Home Study was indeed cancelled because of the weather and a flat tire.  We figured it would be because all schools in the area were cancelled.  We rescheduled for yesterday. 
I have to tell you that this Home Study visit was nothing like anything I could ever imagine.  I was very nervous and have no idea why.  I was relieved when she got here and we started talking.  She was so nice and has so much experience.  She and I had a great interview and then she interviewed Dave.  I was not in the room for that one.  Then she briefly talked to all our kids and toured our house.
Our house is fine besides one minor thing that has to be done.  Our banister upstairs is a little too short and could pose a danger to Z because he could flip over it especially if he can't see.  We sort of figured that would be an issue.  Thankfully my dad and Dave came up with an fairly inexpensive fix by mounting a railing type thing to make it taller.  Once it's installed it will look just fine and keep our little guy safe!  My dad actually already got the stuff to fix it. 
Our last home study visit will consist of getting the final doctors physicals and then meeting with her on February 13th.  She said most will be written up by then so it won't be long for her to finish it up and we can send it in with our I800A form. 
In case you are wondering what "officially matched" means for the waiting child. 
It means that he is placed on hold by their government so that no other family can request to adopt him.  It means that he is indeed available to be adopted. They met and looked over our file and approved us!!  I had to write a 2 page paper highlighting our family and ask permission to adopt Z. I'm so happy that this part of the process is done. They now know that our family loves Z and desire for him to be our son.
It seems so much more real now!
Please continue to pray for our family and for little Z.  Pray that we have patience during this "hurry up and wait" chapter in our lives.  Pray that we get an update on Z quickly.  Also pray that Z will be prepared in his own way to join our family.  I know God will guide this transition process as it could be a very scary time for him.  The orphanage is all he knows.  Pray that the Lord will prepare the kids here for the changes that are to come. 
Thanks for supporting us on our journey through your prayers and words of encouragement. They mean so much to us! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Snow Snow... Go AWAY!!

It's SOOOO cold today in Michigan!  Last I checked it was 9 degrees and the snow is coming down quite a bit.  I really really hope it stops soon.  Tomorrow is our 2nd home study visit here at the house and the lady has to travel from Grand Rapids to get to our place.  I really really do not want it to be canceled due to nasty roads.  But, if they are bad, I will understand because I do not want to put anyone's life at risk.

It's in God's Hands! 

This weekend we did a TON of cleaning and organizing.  I can't believe how hard the kids worked at the housework.  Even today, they were so quick to clean up their dinner dishes and make sure the counters were cleared off. 

We are starting to prepare our lifestyles for having a visually impaired little boy in our home.  This means everything is kept picked up off the floor!  We have a while before he comes, but we want to make this a habit before he gets there.  What can I say... I have a couple teens/almost teens and an 8 year old... they sometimes forget to pick things up!  They are trainable though and I have no fears that they will be just fine!

I still want to mention that anyone who feels called to donate to our home study fees will be put in a drawing for a $100 sears gift card!  So far we have 3 people who have donated... One through the chip in and two personally gave us money.  I can't reflect it on the chip in because it doesn't allow me to donate to my own account from my own account. 

So far, including the donation of $100 already collected, we have $220 towards are fees.  The probability of winning that gift card is very high so if you would like to contribute we can add you to the drawing.  The way the drawing works is that everyo $1 donated will give you one chance at winning the gift card.

We find it very difficult to ask for money.  But I want to be honest with you... International adoption is VERY expensive.  We know that God has led us to our boy and we really believe He will provide for every step in the process.  But, that doesn't mean we can just sit back and do nothing.  We have plans to do some auctions and sell some things.  If anyone has any fundraiser ideas let me know! 

Finally, the last thing I will say about fundraising is that my friend plans to help with our fundraising by letting the donations go through her foundation so that if you need a tax reciept, she will write one out for you. 

This week we should hear back from Z's country about placing him on hold.  They have all our paperwork and its just a matter of them giving us the preliminary approval.  I am quickly learning that things move slower in other countries and patience is the ultimate key in this process.  This is only the beginning!  I'm sure our patience will be testing time and time again throughout this year.

Oh, I almost forgot... Dave and I finished our 10 hours of Hague online training over the weekend.  This training touched on issues such as attachment, parenting an adopted child, and dealing with diversity.  The training was actually quite good and I was very proud of my husband for actually participating and good discussion resulted.  Some of the parenting techniques Dave has been using all along and we never even realized it.  For example, I tend to put the girls in time out when they misbehave.  Dave tends to make them stay by him when they are being naughty.  There are many times when he will take one of the children with him on his errand especially when that child is having a rough day.  I plan to put this into practice more than the time outs... especially for Stella... who seems to escalate more when she is made to go in her room.  I have found that making her sit at the table while I am cooking dinner instead of sending her upstairs helps calm her down faster.  I am so happy that we took those courses.  They were definately worth it!

Well, I better sign off for now.  It's been a long day and I think tomorrow will be just as long.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Tomorrow is the "official" start of our interview for the Home Study.  Dave and I will be meeting her at 4:15.  We were then told that 2 more will be scheduled after that.  One at our home and to meet with our kids.  The last one is for final interviews and to turn in the rest of the paperwork.

I have many of the forms gathered already.  Can you tell I'm a little excited about getting this show on the road!  It helps that Dave and I have lived in the same state our whole lives and I only work until 2:45 so it gives me plenty of hours of the day to gather it up.

I think the home study lady will be rather impressed that out of the 16 things on the checklist... we only have 5 left.  Two of those are our physicals (for us and for the kids) from our doctors and those are already scheduled.  One is for a letter from our local police station stating we are not criminals.  That has already been requested but takes a couple days.  Another one is all our financial statements... I want to make sure exactly what is needed before I go and gather those up.  And the last one is for a child abuse and neglect registry clearance that the home study lady will provide us with the form. 

All in all, I think we are doing pretty good LOL!  We are really looking forward to meeting with her and introducing her to our family. 

So, you may be asking... what are the next steps.

Well, we are just learning but from all the information that I am learning I think I have an idea.

First, we will start and finish the home study.

In the meantime, our placing agency recieved our first set of 8 notarized and apostilled documents.  Some of these were for the dossier to be completed later and some were to place Z on hold with his county. 

After the homestudy is complete... I'm hoping within like 4 or 5 weeks.. we will send in an official "request to adopt" I800A form.  After that is approved in his country, we can send in our dossier.  Then it's a waiting, waiting, and more waiting until we get to travel to meet him!  My guess is early summer.  This trip will be with just Hannah (unless of course she doesn't get better grades LOL).  This trip will be 5-7 days to meet Z at the orphanage and accept the referral. 

Then after the first trip, we wait more months (I'm guessing by the end of the year or early next year) until the courts approve us to pick him up! 

It seems like a lot of work and it seems overwhelming at times.  But, one step at a time.  I keep a picture of Z close at hand so that I have the motivation to keep on gathering!

I'll leave you with a comment I posted on an adoption blog of an online friend of mine way back at the end of August.  This was after we had already been praying for Z every night.  You can see how much he meant to me in my words way back then... long before I knew that the Lord would call us to be his parents.  God sure does move mountains :-). 

"I am so very overjoyed. I have been following your blog faithfully since November. My heart is so happy for your little guy. God is good and faithful. What a miracle in the works.
Every night our family prays for Z (A little beautiful boy that you posted on a page with your boy)… that he will be chosen as someones child. I wish so deeply that he can be our little boy. I am drawn to him and its sometime painful to accept that we are not in a position to adopt. I believe God will provide for all these children. I place Z in God’s hands and anxiously await His plan for him. If you have any updates, please post.
Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us readers. This is a true testimony of God’s work in many lives." 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy Birthday!!

Today is a little bittersweet.  I know all families that decide to adopt go through this so I'm sure I'm no different.  Today Z celebrates his 7th birthday.  My mind keeps wondering if anyone told him it was his birthday.  Did he get a cake?  Did they have a celebration?  Does he know he's 7?  Did he have a good day? 

I will never know the answer to those questions and honestly, I may not like the answer so I like to think it's "yes" to all those questions.  I was discussing this with Hannah today and she said that she is sure that there is at least one worker in the orphanage that loves him deeply, that made his day special.  But she also said, even if this was not the case... he probably doesn't know any different so even if he was not told "happy birthday"... that doesn't mean that he is sad.  It would only be sad if he knew it was his birthday and nobody acknowledged it.  Which, I highly doubt is the case!  I love how Hannah puts things in perspective for me.  She is so wise!

So, today is our little boy's birthday!  We have much to celebrate!  For his birthday, the girls picked out a very special gift! 

Tomorrow we will be heading up to GR to get a bunch of documents apostilled from the great seals office of the secretary of state.  I am thankful that in MI the cost is only $1 per document!  I was told some states are much more than that.  I am also thankful that Dave and I live in the same town that we were born in so we could easily get our certified copies of our birth certificate and marriage license very quickly and easily!  If I would have had to order them it would have cost a lot more, plus it would have taken more time. 

I am also thankful that our references for the home study could be hand delivered to our friends and family so that we could get a jump start on those.  I have gotten all but 1 sent out and was told they are almost done!

The first home study visit will be next Thursday!  They recieved our paperwork and said we are all set to start.  Yay! 

Once the documents are apostilled for the placing agency, Z will officially be placed on hold for us!  It's no guarantee, but I am trusting the Lord on this one.  He has placed him in our hearts and I know He is leading this. 

I'm sure you noticed that I added a chip in on the top right of this page.  To start, I put it for our home study.  I am going to take this one step at a time. 

Adopting overseas is very expensive, but we are trusting in the Lord to provide for our every need.

Please know that if you feel called to donate to help bring Z home, any donation made can be claimed on your taxes.  My friend Michele has a non profit charity so she has offered to help us fundraise.  Also, she has offered to raffle off a $100 sears gift card for anyone who donates up until our home study is complete and the dossier is sent in!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The paperwork begins

This week has been a wirlwind of paperwork.  Dave and I found a home study place that was recommended by our placing agency and we have been working the last few nights on the paperwork.  Wednesday we got the application, which consisted of 22 pages of questions.  Dave was working late so I stayed up to work on my section.  Because not only is it 22 pages for us to fill out, there are separate sections where Dave has to fill out also.  I think I stayed up until midnight on Wednesday and still was able to get up for work on Thursday morning at 5:40am. 

On Thursday night I gave Dave his sections to complete, he went upstairs while I worked in the living room writing my autobiography for the home study.  Dave has known me long enough and realized very quickly the slower he writes, the more likely I will end up writing it for him.  I was able to write my whole autobiography in the amount of time it took him to write his name, his parents names, and our address!  So, Thursday night after the kids went to bed, Dave and I sat and finished his section up together while I wrote and he dictated.  I have to say though, that he was very much focused on answering the question.  I was very happy that I did not have to fill this out by myself. 

Tonight he finished his autobiography and now we are ready to mail the packet in to the home study agency along with the first payment!  After they recieve it they will call us to set up our first visit.  I was told this home study would consist of 1 home visit, 2 visits at a mutual location, and online training hours.  Plus gathering up a massive about of documents. Bring it on!

I am very fortunate to have a job where I get out at 2:45 so that I can do all the gathering of information after work.  I have a feeling that we will be quite busy for a while.

All this paperwork reminds me of when I was going through my MBA program.  I was forever busy and it seemed like just when I got one thing done, there was always something else to do.  I did a good job balancing work and school so I have no doubt in my mind that I will do just fine with preparing for this adoption.

The cool part is that when this process is finished, instead of getting just a piece of paper saying I graduated... I will have a beautiful little boy to love for the rest of my life!  That is the BEST motivation!