Monday, March 16, 2009

Interviewed By a Stranger....

Yesterday was our home study. We were both a bit stressed even though we had been through a home study before. The house had to be just right. At the last minute we started to think about all the things we might have forgotten. We forgot to change batteries in the smoke detectors...... we didn't have carbon monoxide sensors..... the dogs were dirty and the back yard was a mess! And then 1PM came.... and we waited..... and waited. At 1:15, we started thinking about our previous communication with the home study agency. Had we given them our address? We went through old e-mails and realized that we had NOT. The social worker was coming in from Ft. Worth and surely wouldn't leave without our address. We were a bit worried when..... the doorbell rang. Ahh, she had gotten our address from the criminal background forms we e-mailed to her.
So the interview went well. She asked many questions about our relationship, our parenting, why we wanted to adopt, support from family and friends and so on..... We seemed to have a lot in common with her. She and Leah were born in the same small town, we had children of similar ages and similar issues, medical and otherwise. So she talked to the two of us for ~2hrs and then spoke to both of us individually. How were we brought up, how is our relationship, what things do we struggle with in our marriage? Then she interviewed the kiddos.... all 7 at once without the two of us present. 15 minutes later she was done. After all of the stress and worry about the house, she spent only 5 minutes walking through it.
We felt really good about the home study. The four hours of discussion felt more like old friends talking than being interviewed by a stranger. One more major milestone completed! Today we finalized our USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Service) paperwork and dropped it in the mail. Unfortunately, we've already exhausted our funds and had to borrow a bit of money to pay the $830 USCIS fee. Tomorrow is our passport appointment. The last thing we need to do before vacation is to get our signed physicals. Our previous pediatrician finally found the kids shot records so we will pick them up tomorrow and deliver them to our new pediatrician. She should sign the forms right away and then we're off to our doctor for our final physical appointment. Although we are both healthy, the doctor seemed to have some concern about Leah's back pain and arthritis. We are praying that that won't cause any problems with signing off on our health.
The ball finally seems like it's rolling now that we've completed a few major milestones. We're so excited about the next steps and are still relying on God to carry us through the entire process. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to adopt again and are praying that God will clear the path before us. Proverbs 3:5-6 keeps coming to mind.... Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight. We are trusting in the Lord and will continue to glorify Him throughout this process.......

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stressful But Productive......

Wow!! It's been a crazy week already and we're only halfway through it. There are so many things to take care of before the homestudy and before we leave for vacation next week. On top of all of that, we are getting audited by the IRS for the 2nd year in a row (I didn't even think that was possible). Perhaps others with large families have had the same experience. Our appointment with the IRS is this Friday. I guess Jesus met with the tax collectors, so why shouldn't we do the same.... just not every year. Everything is in order and they really just need to verify that all 7 of our kids are truly our dependents. A simple inspection of our grocery bill should prove our case......

On a positive note, we are really enjoying the Hague training that our HS agency required us to take. Since we don't have a laptop, we moved our desktop computer into our room so that we could watch the online training videos without being disturbed by the kiddos. Of course, most of them still ended up in our room. But the training has been great! We thought we would just go through the motions to get credit, but some of the topics (particularly attachment disorders) have been very enlightening. We've been able to better understand some of the challenges our adopted kiddos have. This training is so much better than what the state required when we adopted domestically. 3 courses down and 7 more to go..... by Sunday.

Soooo here's what we have left..... We're still waiting for final shot records for a few of our kiddos. We have a few forms that need to be filled out by our doctor and a final appointment with him next Tuesday. We have an appointment to get our passports next Tuesday. We're getting passports for the two of us, as well as Faith and Emma. The current plan is to take Emma with us on our first trip to the Ukraine and have Tony and Faith return to pick up Elisa and Vanessa on the second trip. The cost for 4 passports is nearly $500 (ouch). We're going to Austin to get certified copies of our marriage license on Friday. We're hand delivering the forms to our personal references today so that they can fill them out in advance of our HS appointment. The forms for criminal background checks were e-mailed today so that ball should be rolling......

In talking about how/ if to do a fundraiser event for the adoption we were approached by a local restaurant owner about doing a fundraiser dinner at his restaurant. It is a very prominent restaurant only a mile away from our church (La Hacienda for those of you who live in SA). What a blessing!!! Doing a fundraiser dinner really appealed to us as it's more of a celebration than a request for donation. We really weren't comfortable asking people to donate money to help us with the adoption even though we will clearly need some help at some point. We will simply sell tickets to the dinner and part of the proceeds will go to help bring Elisa and Vanessa home.

We are so excited that things are moving forward! Thanks so much for all of your prayers and for your support!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Getting ready for our HS......

We are getting ready for our Homestudy visit on 3/15, just 8 days from now. For the past few weeks, we've been consumed with paperwork and doctor appointments. All 7 of our children had to have physicals. Our pediatrician was so nice to shut down her clinic for nearly three hours to dedicate time to our kids. Emma, our youngest needed a few shots which she hated. The doctor had a few concerns about our son Christian due to his lack of growth. He was not even on the growth chart for height and weight which seemed to be of great concern for the doctor...... we just thought he was small, but the doctor wants to run some tests. I think both of our boys were traumatized by their first full physical in a few years. They weren't real happy about the doctor inspecting certain parts of their anatomy (I hope that was discrete enough). It was quite humorous though. Otherwise, everyone was healthy. Time for the two of us to get physicals.

Our son Christian

The adult physicals went well. Since we never really go to the doctor, we had to find a brand new doctor for ourselves. He was great and was very encouraging and supportive regarding the adoption. He said that he would help in any way possible. So we have a few more items on our list before the HS. We need to get our marriage certificate which will require us to drive to Austin, since that is where we were married. We need to write our biographies and then get a copy of the floor plans for our house. We're a little worried about our floor plan as our house a bit small for 9 children. Heck, I guess most houses are too small for 9 children. But honestly, we're not sure what the interviewer will say regarding our house. We plan to install a door to make our study into a bedroom so that Elisa and Vanessa will have a room right next to our master bedroom. Unfortunately, that work will not be done by our HS and we're not sure if that will be a problem. Our close friends also know that we still have to carpet our master bedroom as we've been on concrete for almost 6 months now. We're kind of getting used to it (as bad as that sounds), but not sure the HS interviewer will be OK with it. It will get carpeted, but all resources are going to the adoption right now.

We also have Laura, our exchange student from France, with us until the end of June. She takes up a room now, but will be gone by the time we go to pick up our girls. It's both great and horrible timing that she will be leaving just a month or so before we go to pick up our girls. Her leaving will make room for the new kiddos, but we would love for her to go through the final part of this experience with us. She's been part of our family for 6 months now and we love her like our own child. Having an exchange student has been a wonderful experience! We will really miss her when she goes back to France.

Laura (our exchange student from France)

Oh, and we still have to take 10 hours of Hague training (training required by our HS agency). It's all online, but getting the two of us together for 10 hours without the kids hanging all over us is going to be a challenge. I guess that's the only good thing about waiting until the last minute..... we have no choice but to get it done. So after all of this, we will be ready for our homestudy! We are praying that it goes well and fully expect that it will. God is in control!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Looking Ahead

The past few days have been very exciting for us. We have been able to watch our friends go to Eastern Europe to go see their new baby. In fact, they will be seeing our 2 babies as well. When they send back pictures of where they are it makes everything so real for us. This is where we will be in a few months.

As we wait for their emails we try to imagine ourselves in their shoes. We try to place ourselves there at this moment. The excitement they must feel as they walk up to see their daughter for the first time, and to hug her for the first time. I really just cant wait until we get to that day.
We still have people who really do not understand this adoption at all. I guess for us it was simply because we felt that God was telling us to do this, but how do you explain something like that to people who don't really have the same beliefs as you. They do not understand that God really does speak to people..... God does really have a purpose for each of us and He calls us to respond!

I'm hoping that in the end, when we finally have our babies here with us, people will see that God was in this. Maybe then they will see the love we have and the hearts we have for these helpless children. You see, we've learned that no matter what, this journey we've chosen will have an impact on those around us. We believe that these two special children will not only bless our family, but everyone around us and for that..... we thank God!