Friday, November 12, 2010

My favorite adoption themed movies

Australia - cried
Baby Mama - laughed
Benjamin Button - enjoyed
Juno - cried and laughed
Martian Child - loved it
The Blind Side - inspiring
August Rush - looooved the music
Meet the Robisons - need to see it
About a boy - need to see it
Despicable Me - does this count? They did get adopted. :)

Do you have others to add? Please comment!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I had no idea that could happen!

So on Monday we got our invitation in the mail from US immigration (USICS) to be fingerprinted. They gave us an appointment for Nov. 24th. Do you actually think we could sit around waiting over 2 weeks to be fingerprinted? No way! So on Tuesday Steve and I drove across the valley, waltzed into the local fingerprinting office and nicely asked if we could be fingerprinted. They didn't bat an eye or mention anything about our appointment being later in the month. I was very relieved as I have heard of people being yelled at in certain offices for trying this. It also helped that there were no other "customers" in the office and the government employees were all just watching TV.

So Steve goes first, they fingerprint him and he sits down. Smooth sailing. Then it's my turn, she takes my hand, gets my fingers wet and presses them to the screen (it's all digital). Then she says: "Hmmm, you don't have fingerprints." Excuse me, what?

It turns out, I have plumb worn off my fingerprints. The credit goes to my impeccable hand washing for which Steve is constantly telling me I do too much of. I also have a theory that the hand sanitizer we use at work is completely toxic and has melted the prints right off my fingers. I have to wonder what else it is doing to me. I wonder if I could get workers comp for this. ??

Long story short, I now have to wait to see if the prints pass muster (which I am sure they won't), wait for the letter saying I failed and to come get fingerprinted again, which I will fail again, then wait for the letter saying they failed again, and then I will have to go get a letter from Sandy City saying I am not a troublemaker, and send that in. Then we will get our I-800A approval.

Don't you love the logic of the government? Like do they really think I am just going to grow new prints in the next few weeks?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The sweetest face we've ever seen:

Isn't she darling?! We sure think so. We have not picked out a name yet but are getting close. She is 7 months old right now. We figure she will be a little over one year old when she joins our family.

We are so excited and wish we could go to China right now but we are trying to be patient and have lots to do in the meantime to get ready.

We appreciate every one's excitement and support for us. We would love prayers for her and for our paper work to get done speedily. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our Story

Part IV

Adopting through the China special needs program is different than the original program where you put all your paperwork in and then are given a referral for a healthy, baby girl. In the special needs program there are, as far as I can tell, just as many boys as girls. They are from about 7 months all the way to 13 years old, when they reach age 14 they are no longer allowed to be adopted. They have problems ranging from an unsightly birthmark, missing digits, cleft lip/palate all the way to HIV+ and severe heart defects. Any kind of medical condition or "abnormality" that you can imagine would fall under the SN category. Also, sometimes just the fact that they are older kids is considered a special need.

In July, we received a packet from Wasatch with pages and pages of contracts to sign before we could get started. It took us a few weeks to get through the contracts and for Steve to feel good about signing them. We checked around and made sure they were standard adoption contracts and we also made sure there were no red flags in the contracts like a gag clause (something that would prevent us from saying anything about the agency if anything went wrong.)

When we were done with those, they had to be notarized and then sent in with a big chunk of change. At this time we also filled out a form with about 100 different medical conditions, and we checked off a box if we were open to adopting a child with that condition. I wrote up a thing with an explanation of all the conditions and a basic description of what they were and then Steve and I filled out separate forms individually. Then we got together to see which conditions we were together on. It was interesting to see how we were mostly on the same page but there were a few conditions that we each had that the other did not have. For example Steve put deafness was OK and I was floored! He thought it would be cool if we all learned sign language. I said no thanks to that! (Although I would do it if I had to, I just think we will have enough on our plates without having to learn sign language!) I thought a missing limb was OK but Steve wasn't too comfortable with that. We came up with all the conditions we both agreed on and made a master which we sent into the agency so they could start looking for a child who fit into our criteria of age and special need.

In this program, you can be matched with a child before you pick an agency and start the process, or at any stage in the process. Our plan was to not match with a child until we were DTC (dossier to China) because we knew it would be hard to wait so long having a name and a face to put with our child.

After the contracts were signed, we were sent a CD with 2 manuals on it. One manual was to explain the entire paperwork process, it was 200 pages long! The other manual was our mandatory 10 hours of education that every international adopting family is required to do, it was also 200 pages. In addition to reading the 200 pages of education we had to answer questions that turned out to be about 10 pages worth of answers. It took us way longer than 10 hours but was all very good information and we are glad we had to do it. We learned a lot!

At this stage we were gathering all of our life's history of documents, doing our education and having our home study visits completed. The home study was finally written up and completed the first week of October, and then had to be notarized. Then, it was sent to us and we mailed it with a bunch of documentation to the US immigration service, called USCIS, who will give us permission to bring an "orphan" into the US. Before we can get that permission we have to be fingerprinted. We are going to get fingerprinted this week and hopefully will have our approval soon after. That is the stage we are in right now. In the meantime, while we are waiting for our approval, a whole packet of our documents is at the state capital and Chinese embassy getting authenticated by each. As soon as we get our approval, we will send all those authenticated documents, called our dossier, to China. Then we will be DTC!

After we are DTC, we wait for our LOA (letter of acceptance), then we have to file some other stuff with the US government, then we have to wait for another approval from China, then we will get an invitation to travel (TA) and pick up our child! Travel is usually 2-3 weeks after TA so we won't have much time to book our travel arrangements. This is it in a nutshell and I have not researched it all that far ahead so I might be over simplifying it. Also, it seems like it will only be a short while from DTC until TA but it can be 6-8 months. Bummer. We hope it goes faster but we don't want to be disappointed so we are trying not to be overly optimistic.

Coming tomorrow... pictures! And our story of being matched before DTC.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our Story

Part III

The rest of 2009 was pretty uneventful. We had a few calls from our case worker about some possible situations but nothing ever came of them. We are really grateful to our case worker, we really feel that she was trying pretty hard to find a situation that would work for us. At the beginning of this year (2010), we had a home study update and our case worker came to our house to talk to us. I told her that I really felt like we were done, this was not how we were going to grow our family. She asked if we wanted to stay in the system and I told her sure, why not, but I wasn't holding my breath.

In January I received an email from my cousin's wife Allison, they live in Shanghai, China. She expressed that she had been thinking of us and told me about some people she knew who did foster care for Chinese babies who had special needs or medical conditions. She said that many of the babies special needs were very mild, some were more serious, but that they were all eventually going to be adopted through the special needs program. She gave me a name of someone who works at an agency here in Utah and her email and told me if we were interested, we should contact her for more information.

I thought I had nothing to loose so I sent the contact person an email requesting more information about the special needs China program. She immediately sent me the information for the program and told me the program would take about 1 year, start to finish. Steve and I talked about it and that was it.

Around May I was feeling really frustrated. It was time to do something or just move on. After all, we have Zack and he is great and life is sooo much easier the older he gets. Just think of all the fun we could have traveling! I decided to write up all of our options and then Steve and I sat down and wrote out all the pro's and con's together. Some of our options were:
-quit everything and move on
-stay on with LDSFS
-use a private domestic adoption agency
-go through an international agency (then I listed all the country programs we had considered like Africa, China, Korea, Haiti, Taiwan).

I told Steve since I had researched everything for the last 3 years and I was comfortable with all of the options in one way or another, that he needed to decide which one he was most comfortable with. Then we would "think on it". If that option didn't seem to be good, we would move on to his 2nd choice and on down the list.

Steve was quick to say that he liked the idea of adopting from China, since that had been our original desire 3 years ago anyway. I liked his reasoning. After thinking about it for some time, we decided to do it!

I started to research a few agencies, and by June I had it narrowed down to two, one of which was Wasatch International, the agency my cousin had recommended. In July we decided to go with Wasatch and signed up with them officially. We decided to keep it a secret because it takes so blasted long and we were tired of talking about adoption with people. We decided we would tell everyone when we were matched with a child! (Kind of like when you are pregnant and you don't tell anyone until you are far enough along to be comfortable telling people.)

So, why am I telling you this story if we weren't going to tell until we were matched?