Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Friday, September 17, 2010

Break Down

Break down Part I

No silly!  This is not a post about me having a break down.  I have had no such thing!  I don't even  have one planned for this week!  Then again.....

No.  This is a post about breaking down our adoption stats for you.  You know, just in case you are interested in how all this works.  Or you are comparing mine to yours.  Yours to mine? 

First lets talk time.  Adoption takes time.  Shocking, I know!  I'm sure most of you remember that Claire's adoption took two years.  But, really it only took that long, because we didn't actually have a child that we'd requested.  It only took 6 months to get our dossier together and 4 months from the day we found her until we traveled to get her!  All that time in between?  Yeah, that was just us waiting on God to direct our path.  We started in the non-special needs line and then spent a good year coming to terms with our other option.  Special needs adoption.  You should never jump into that arena without knowing what you are doing.  It required a lot of research and soul searching.  But, we are very glad and most certain that special needs adoption is what we are supposed to be doing!

Before we get started I realize this task will seem daunting to many of those that have not done.  It's not.  Trust me, I've done it twice.  It's not easy, and the road is often bumpy.  But, it can be done! 

We started thinking about this adoption last December, but you don't really count thinking.  Thinking about adoption is not speedy.  We started working on this adoption in March.  Working amps things up a bit! 

Here is what our timeline to Asher looks like: 

3/9/2010 We applied to Madison Adoption Associates.  Why Madison?  Well, I've been around the block now.  I've been part of the adoption community for four years.  In the loop you hear things.  Lots of things.  While I haven't heard bad things about many agencies, I have heard so many wonderful things about Madison.  And, they sounded like an agency I'd want to work with.  Just like last time, I went with my gut on this.  I did check into two other agencies though.  Agencies that work in SC and might be more affordable because of that.  They weren't. 

In between applying to Madison and the next date on our list a lot went on.  Most of you know that we identified a little boy with a heart defect and were pre-approved for him.   I also contacted our social worker from our last adoption, hoping she would be able to do our homestudy again.  Alas, she had since passed away.  So, I had to go on a hurried search for a homestudy agency because Madison, not being in our state, is not allowed to conduct our homestudy.  Not that I could pay them travel expenses from Delaware away!  I found Nightlight.  A Christian agency in the upstate that agreed to do our homestudy at a reasonable rate financially and time wise. 

4/17/2010 We had our first homestudy visit. This visit was at our house and the social worker, a very sweet young girl, interviewed the entire family, including doing private interviews of the kids.  This was very different from our first homestudy.  She toured the house, checked the smoke detectors and collected some of the paperwork she needed.  That was that.  Over the next few weeks, she conducted three more interviews.  They were not at our house and did not involve the kids.  We had to present birth certificates, our marriage licence, Paul's divorce decree, and letters from all our doctor's saying we were in good health, had had all our vaccines, and did not have any communicable diseases.  We also had to prepare financial worksheets proving we made the right amount of money and weren't in financial distress and have four of our friends write letters of reference for us.  Lastly, we had to have a SLED background check, a sex offenders check and a local background check done at our local police station.  All this documentation was for our social worker, but most of it must be turned in with our dossier to Chin@ anyway.

The social worker found out that we were born, are married now, are in good general health, and there are no criminal actions in our past!  I'm not even a sex-offender!  Whew!

About this time, we found out that the sweet little boy we had locked, not only has a heart defect, but he's deaf and it was not in his medical forms.  We were devastated.  Our agency, while being very sensitive and supportive, really did not want us to proceed with his adoption.  They felt we were not qualified to handle a deaf child and would not have approved us for him if they'd known before.  They were genuinely concerned for us and for little Shan Yi, that this would not be best for anyone.  After weeks of research, and soul searching, we reluctantly petitioned to be un-locked from this child and moved forward with the adoption of another child.

I'm not going to lie, folks.  This was hard.  It was hard to separate and leave a child not knowing when or if he will find his family.  And it was very hard to switch gears.  Suddenly, I was not the mom to Shan Yi, but I was the mom to Jun'an {Dree an}.  It did not compute.  And though, I had dreamed of Jun'an for almost 6 months {July to December}, I had put him out of my mind as a possibility when Paul just could not be swayed to consider him.  It took time to actually get happy about adopting him.  That's the facts. I don't sugar coat. 

I'll never forget the first thing I learned during our first adoption.  Something a wise adoptive mother that worked for our first agency told me, "Adoption is not for the faint of heart."  It's true.  But, it is so worth it! I held onto that belief and my heart healed.  I will always think about and pray for Shan Yi.  I hope that one day I will get to know for sure that he is in his family.  But, I also have attached to my son, Jun'an.  And, I am, as usual, in awe of the ways that God works to put families together!  I know that he hold all of us, Shan Yi too, in the palm of his hand!

5/11/2010 We locked Jun'an's file.  It was hard to believe that after all this time we would end up with the boy I'd pushed for so hard the year before. I couldn't believe he was still on the list!

5/13/2010 We got PA or pre-approval to adopt Jun 'an.  This means that based on the general information our agency submitted on our behalf, it looks like we will have no problems getting approved once we've jumped through all the necessary hoops!

6/2/2010 We finished our homestudy.  All the necessary documentations were made and our social worker certified that she could recommend us as adoptive parents!  She sent our homestudy to DSS for their stamp of approval too.  This is a required extra step in our good state.  Bah.  It adds two to three weeks to our time table, {not to mention the fee} so someone who does not know us and never interviewed us, can make sure the social worker they already certified to do homestudies made a good recommendation.  Really?  

He's worth it!  He's worth it!  He is so worth it!  This is my mantra.

6/18/2010  DSS approval and USCIS application. We got a letter stating that DSS agreed with the findings of our state certified social worker.  We were recommended as adoptive parents and our paperwork was forwarded to USCI$ {citizenship and immigration}  This is also the date we sent our application to USCI$ {I-800A}2.  We could only hope that our homestudy and our application would one day meet again.  Most people get to send in everything all at once, but not if you are from our state! 

7/2/2010 We got a letter from USCI$ stated that they had received and were processing our paperwork. 
7/23/2010 Finally got our fingerprint appointments for USCI$.  In order to get approval from them, you must have your fingerprints run through the FBI database.  Your fingerprinting must take place at your state's CI$ office.  Ours just happens to be in Charleston.  Our appointment was not until August 18th, but we called and were told by our local office that we could do ours by walk-in on Wednesdays.  We just had to bring our letter proving that we had an assigned date and time already.

7/28/2010 Did our fingerprinting by walk-in.  In some areas they do not allow this.  We are fortunate.  However, I will say that the woman working at our office did not want to do them early.  She did them.  But, she was rude and she whined and she tried to make us feel bad for coming in early!  She clearly has no heart for adoption or the adoptive parent trying to get things done as quickly as possible.  However, others have said that they were flat out refused when they tried to do their prints early at other locations around the country. 

8/23/2010 We received our USCI$ approval!  This is a provisional approval {I-797}that does not give us permission to bring an orphan in the country, but does give us permission to pursue it.  Actual permission comes later after Chin@ officially approves us.

8/26/2010 We got our state certifications.  All the documents that we have spent the last months collecting and notarizing, had to be state certified.  The list is 14 documents long.  Two of those had to be certified in states other than ours.  I was not born in SC so my birth certificate was certified in GA.  Paul works in SC, but his employer is not here.  He works for a company based in Indiana and his employment letter had to be certified there.  I sent those two documents off as soon as I got them so I already had them certified.  We waited on our I-797 before we had our SC documents certified.  The I-797 has to be photocopied and we attached a letter stating that it was a copy of the original and had that notarized.  Then Paul took all the SC documents to Columbia and waiting while they were certified.  What documents?  Paul's birth certificate, our marriage licence, his divorce decree, a medical questionnaire for Paul and one for me that was filled out by our doctors, a letter from our local police department for each of us that states that we are not known criminals, a letter I wrote stating that I am not employed outside the home {if I worked I would get a letter from my employer stated that I did}, a financial statement, a copy of our completed homestudy, the copy of our I-797 and a letter written by me and Paul asking China to consider us as parents for Jun'an and delineating all the plans we have for him in our family.   That is the paperchase in a nutshell!

8/28/2010 Documments are sent to Washington DC.  We use a courier in Washington to hand deliver our documents to the US state department and the Chinese consulate.  All 14 of our documents have to be certified in both offices before they are allowed to be sent to China to represent us.  We use a sweet and knowledgeable adoptive mom that does this everyday for adoptive parents all over the country.  If you are ever in need of a courier for adoption papers or visas try Carol Fredericks at Dependable Adoption Courier Services.

9/3/2010 Our documents are returned to us all certified.  Well, the official paperchase is over now!  We have done all we can to be parents to an orphan from China.  Except....

Now is when we need to get our Dossier {all those certified and authenticated documents} to Chin@.  DTC.  That is the next step.  We send it to Madison and they send it to Chin@ as soon as they have gone through it with a fine toothed comb.  Then it will be logged into computers at the Center for Adoption Affairs in Chin@.  They will traslate it into Chinese, and then put it in line to be reviewed.  Once reviewed and {hopefully} approved, they will issue us our LOA, letter of acceptance.  This is letter asking us to officially sign off saying we want to adopt Jun'an and will come to get him when they send us notice to do so.  After we send our LOA back to Chin@, they will send us TA, travel approval and we have to use this document.  At this point we will work to get our final approval for USCI$ and our agency will work on getting us an appointment with the US consulate in Chin@.  Once all that is set up, we travel to China to get our boy.  YAY! 

Why isn't our dossier in Chin@ yet?  Why isn't it on it's way?  Well, folks.  That is for another day. 

Just cause it makes me feel better to see them,

I'm posting these so cute pictures of our l'il emperor.

The newest...
{Don't you just want to squeeze him?!}

And the oldest I have.
This being the first picture I saw of him!

1 comment:

Sally-Girl! said...

He is so cute!!!! Please post why you are not DTC. I was really hoping we would meet up in China. I guess there is still hope for that!!!