“…once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.”
~Proverbs 24:12

Sunday, February 28, 2010


So, we sent in our I-600A to the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services a little more than a week ago. Pretty much, the form is meant to give our government a "heads up" that we are adopting internationally. We will then be asked to fill out more forms, get fingerprinted, etc. as required by our country.

Our check made for the processing of the I-600A was deposited last week, according to our bank statement. We got excited!

After checking the mail this weekend, we received a letter from USCIS. At first glance, we noticed the letter was on "official" paper, watermarks and all. We got REALLY excited!
We read the body of the letter and... D'OH!

It seems our application was incomplete. While we did send a $670 check for the processing of the form, we did not send in the required amount for our biometrics (fingerprinting). Oops! This isn't the first mishap in the process, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Luckily, it's a quick fix.

We also received another packet from our placement agency. They received our application and cashed our application fee check. Woot! But with that came a few more items we have to fill out. Many are duplicates of what we had to do for our home study, so hopefully it won't take too long.

So, unfortunately no checklist this post. Only more things to add to our "To Do" list. I feel like the sixth season of "Lost"—instead of answers, we frustratingly only get more questions. We'll keep trodding along though!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Focus on the Positive, Right?

Yesterday was a rough day. I can't even explain why it was rough without hearing myself sound like a whining "Debbie Downer." Seriously, nothing terrible happened... it was just one of those days that I let all the little negative things that happened get to me.

There's no need to go into details—not on a blog that may become public again one day, anyways. Pretty much two people were outright rude and disrespctful to me. One has treated me that way in the past, so I usually try to brush it off. The other was someone I don't know personally, but still got offended nonetheless.

I know, I know. I shouldn't let silly stuff like that bring me down—especially when there was quite a lot that got accomplished that same day! We received a rough draft of our home study from our social worker. It looked great! We have just a few things we need to clarify and change for her and we should be all set! We filled out and mailed the I600-A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) along with the required $670 fee. *GULP* And we filled out and mailed our application to the placement agency we plan to use, along with its required application fee *GULP* *GULP* Despite the holes in our pockets that day, there was a lot to celebrate.

So, why is it when we finally feel like we're making headway on this stretch of God's path, things start to go wrong and we get flustered and lose focus...?

I think we all know the answer to that...

I've always loved the imagery of Matthew 14:22-33. At some point, the Lord commands us all to "come." Peter was doing just fine after answering Jesus' call and focusing on Him. Peter was walking on water for crying out loud! He was doing something man deems impossible. Then Peter loses his focus. He notices the storms and winds, becomes fearful, and sinks.

If only we weren't so easily distracted by the storms and winds of life. If only we could ALWAYS keep our focus on the Truth and the Light. But even when we don't, I'm so thankful that God reaches out his hand and pulls us back up.

Next time maybe I can keep my focus, enjoy the journey, and skip the soggy shoes.

• Submit I600 A to USCIS
• Send in placement agency application

Monday, February 15, 2010

To All My Guinea Pigs: FAQs

As you guys know, we’re still in the process of sharing our plans for adopting a child from Russia (despite wanting to shout it from the rooftops!). I know with every unfamiliar topic life presents you, there are bound to be questions. I’d venture to say, adoption is unfamiliar territory for many people. So, I thought I’d try out a few Q&As (FAQs, if you will) on you, my current guinea pigs—er, I mean readers:

Is adoption our “Plan B?”
Not in the least! God our heavenly father adopted us as His children and we all know God never has—nor needs—a Plan B. It was His intention all along.

In the same vein, adoption is not Derek’s and my “next best step.” For years God had been planting seeds for adoption in my soul. It just so happened that it wasn’t until we were faced with the hurdle of infertility that we discovered God’s true path for this part in our lives. There are NUMEROUS avenues of fertility that we passed up to move full-steam ahead with adoption. Of course there’s nothing wrong with those options, and we know many who have pursued them with successful results. It’s just not the path we’re lead to travel.

Why international adoption?
(Why is it this always seems to be a question when one chooses to adopt from a different country? Don’t all children deserve loving homes? But, I digress…)

Not many people are aware that domestic adoption can cost upwards of $30,000, so it’s not always much cheaper than international adoption. Many times prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) end up having to pay for the birthmother's delivery, medical care, housing expenses, etc. Also, the birth mothers more than likely choose the adoptive parents, which leads to a pageantry we’d much rather avoid.

Foster care (as Derek knows well, from his work experience at DCS) is not something we feel we could do well. We both work full-time, causing it to be difficult to take children to court hearings, DCS meetings, etc. on top of what we are more than willing to take off for health issues, which can arise in any child.

Our last reason? Because God said “go.”

Why Russia?
Many reasons. We wanted to work with a country that has a history of completing many adoptions with the US. As first-timers to the process, we definitely want to go into as secure of an environment as possible. Three countries that have been most popular for some time now are Guatemala (currently closed to US adoptions), China (we’re not old enough to adopt from there) and Russia. While some countries are recently doing more adoptions with the US like Ethiopia, South Korea, Kazakhstan, etc., we just felt those weren’t right for this, our first experience with adoption.

It is required by the Russian Federation that orphans are available exclusively to Russians for at least six months (time can vary depending on region). This usually means that the orphans available for international adoption have been “passed up” several times before being referred to PAPs from other countries.

When did we begin the process?
Truth be told, adoption has always been something I’ve thought of—even back in high school. Derek’s heart for children who need good “forever” families grew during his time at DCS.
We attended our first adoption seminar on May 2, 2009. While we did not choose to sign with this placement agency, it was the vehicle in which God told us this IS His plan for us. We attended more seminars, talked to adoptive families, did more research than you can probably imagine (well, if you know “A”-personality-type-me… I’m sure you can imagine… ;-) )

After things with the future of Derek’s job were—one could say—“put up in the air” a bit, we thought it wise to put our plans on hold. International adoption is already a financial mountain we’re uncertain how to climb. We didn’t want to put ourselves in a foolish position. However, on a Wednesday about two and a half months ago, God made it so perfectly clear to both of us, separately, that it is His Will for us to go on and proceed.

How long will the process take?
A. Long. Time. I’m just putting that out there from the get-go.
In all seriousness, there is a possibility that we could have our child home in 2010. Likely? Probably not. So if I’m approached with a well-intentioned “have you heard anything yet?” or “when will you bring him/her/them home?” or “can we see pictures?” and I begin to scowl... you’ll know why, and you’ll also know to pray for me! ;-)

Who in the world has been reading this blog?
Um… you got me! More than 12,000 hits…?!
(The blog was public up until several months ago)

So, what do you guys think? What am I missing?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Making Headway!

We're getting somewhere! After being poked and prodded for our medical exams—which includes everything from a drug screen to an HIV test—and completing financial statements, background checks and filling out paperwork after paperwork, we have sent our social worker everything she needs to complete our home study! Hooray! We may have a draft in hand by Tuesday!

International adoption is a long process, and we're still just at the beginning. But this is our first big step! Now, on to our placement agency paperwork!

• Family/Adoption statements
• Financial statements
• TBI and local background check
• Mail last of home study documents to social worker!!!

Oh, and happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Derek is rather under the weather, so ours was spent at home. :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

...For Granted

Derek and I met at a three-day leadership conference at Miami of Ohio in July of 2004. After the conference, we were in the same town (Indianapolis) for about a week before we had to hit the road as consultants for our Greek organizations. We spent a total of 30 days in each other's presence in the four months it took before Derek popped the question. How did we do it? Communication, communication, communication.

We talked on the phone ALL of the time. I think we once had a 10-hour phone conversation on Derek's drive from Oklahoma to Texas... Ah... young love.

I remember one late night phone conversation after we got engaged (which may or may not have ended with me snoozing well before hanging up...) about what it would be like to be married. We definitely were looking at everything through rose-colored glasses and didn't know what we were in for. But everyone does that, right? However, one thing still sticks out in my mind about that conversation that has turned out to be more meaningful, real and treasured than either of us could have imagined when we talked late that night. Since we were apart for the first nine months of our relationship, we vowed never to take the time we had together for granted.

As a couple having just celebrated four years of marriage, do we slip up sometimes? Sure. But on the whole, we value the time we have together. Take this past weekend for example: we were "stranded" at our house in the snow with no vehicles. We were stuck with each other. LOVED IT! We truly love being around each other. We definitely have our own interests and activities, but those we can do together are the ones we enjoy and cherish the most. Of course it's not easy when we're having an argument or something. No one said marriage would be easy all of the time. But we make a decision to keep to our vow and value the time we have together instead of wishing it away.

Derek and I want to vow to do the same with our children. We fully realize we are not parents yet and "things will completely change when (we) have kids," as we're reminded. The same could have been said as we were going into our marriage. But we are still able to keep that vow of cherishing the time Derek and I have together.

Maybe it's the life experiences we've had. Maybe the months of maintaining a long-distance relationship helped us form our view on marriage. Maybe our struggle with infertility helped us form our views on parenthood. Whatever it is, I just know that it pains me to witness people taking things for granted that others would LOVE to have--specifically time with their own children.

I'm sure people don't even realize they do this. I used to do it all the time with other situations--I've definitely been guilty of it. But when it comes to family--having lost a very close family member several years ago and then being told that we're not "supposed to be able to have biological children"--it's just very hard to hear.

After we bring home children of our own and become parents, I truly hope we will be reminded of this vow, as we have been reminded and decided to stick to the one we made for our marriage.


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