Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some new developments...

Thanks to Jaci being here last week I was able to take my mind of things and really concentrate on relaxing and enjoying time with her. Like I said before, it was a welcome distraction.

Today I made a phone call to CHS…again…to see where they were at with our paperwork and when we could set up a meeting to fill out the app and get this home study cracka-lackin! Janet is new to this position and so I was a little leery but I told myself to get over it and just start over with her. Long story short we have a meeting on Wednesday morning, I’M PUMPED! The agency is in Fort Pierce so we’ve got about a 2 hour drive ahead but that gives us plenty of time to decompress and chat about our future little one which of course I never mind.

When we started this journey we knew there would be harder days, weeks or even months but last week we focused on some positives.

1. We received a refund on some concert tickets we had purchased a few months ago because the show was cancelled so that was a welcome little treat and we are about 1/3 of the way to being able to pay for our entire home study ($1,800).

2. I have been able to make some seriously great contacts with people who have adopted from Ethiopia recently and that my friend is priceless! I have been badgering them with questions and what’s even more fantastic is that they love answering them! These people either have a single adopted child or multiple adopted children and are so passionate about adopting it has been very refreshing.

SO, I’ll be post an update on Wednesday after our meeting with Janet at CHS! Keep the prayers coming…last week I had some other things going on that were draining my energy and trying to steal my focus but I’m pressing on!

Psalm 138:8 ”The Lord will work out His plans for my life-for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me for you made me”.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcome distraction...

So for the last 4 weeks its been adoption talk, at dinner, at bed time, at work, on my cell, everywhere. This week there’s a little lull in the action because we’re waiting to hear from our social worker at CHS to set up an appointment to go over paperwork. Normally in my every day life this would be torture, because then I wouldn’t have anything to do but wait, HOWEVER, my absolute favorite friend from college is visiting me for an entire week…without her two kids! YIPPEE! So our days have been filled with catching up, grocery shopping, tv watching, and facebook. Its been great.

I’ll tell you why Jaci is one of my favorites:

1. She thinks I’m funny, and laughs at nearly everything I say, this is great because I love making people laugh.

2. She’s a mother, and I admire mother’s. She has a 3 year old, and a 19 month old, THAT is hard work.

3. She’s a good listener & gives great advice.

4. She is a no drama kind of girl, this is important to me because I loathe drama and don’t want to be involved in it at all.

5. She is genuine. This is a hard and valuable character trait to find in a friend…I advise anyone who has found a friend with this character trait to clamp on with both hands and DO NOT LET GO.

Basically she’s a treasure. Someone who knows the good parts of me and the bad parts of me, and still loves me. She’s going to be a huge asset to me through this whole process and a source of great advice.

So we’re still waiting at this point to move on to the next big step in this process…the Home Study. We’re scrimping and saving every last dime to foot the bill for it, so really we can’t start it until we have that cash flow in the bank. What we can start is the application and getting some of the paperwork together for it. I find myself noticing African American children more…and one of my biggest concerns is…How the heck am I going to take care of their hair???? I don’t know the first thing about it, what to put in it or how to braid it even, and I most certainly don’t know how to do corn rows! Guess that’s what You Tube is for. HA! Continue to pray the process will move forward and that our saving every penny will pay off (literally). We believe this is what we’re supposed to be doing, and we believe this is how we’re supposed to start to build our family.

Proverbs 4:23-27 says:

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thoughts on today...

Today, at church, was the first time we’ve seen some of our friends since we decided to adopt. I can’t even begin to tell you how touched I was…everyone was so excited, people were offering their old baby clothes, their notary services, babysitting services, but most importantly their prayer support! We realize this is a huge undertaking with finances alone it’s going to be rough, but we absolutely could never ever make it through this process if we didn’t have our friends and family praying for us. God does amazing things through prayer and we know that and see it first hand in our lives every day, so please keep praying! Thanks to everyone who already has, and hopefully will continue to as well.

As for today, the parenthood thing isn’t bothering me, but that’s just today, hopefully my freak outs will be few and far between.

To answer some common ?'s...

Here are some questions that I’ve been asked frequently about adoption in relation to Tyler and I.

1. How long will it take? The whole process from applying to bring our child home is 12-18 months with Ethiopia depending on how quickly we get our paperwork finished up and our dossier sent over to Ethiopia. Home study is 3-4 months long, waiting for a referral (which means the agency to match us with a child) is 6-9 months. Once we’re matched, and our dossier is approved, our travel date is usually anywhere from 4-6 weeks after that depending on the season. Also, a dossier is a compilation of a lot of paperwork (i.e. doctors notes, work note, fingerprinting, and tons of other paperwork including our completed home study that is sent to Ethiopia as our FORMAL application to them as a country).

2. Are we adopting a boy or a girl? Infant or older child? The first time you adopt from Ethiopia you can only specify if you want a boy. They don’t allow you to choose a girl the first time around, we aren’t specifying anything accept age and the fact that our child will be 100% healthy. We are choosing to adopt an infant (0-12 months). The next time we adopt we’ll be more open to having an older (1-4years) child.

3. Why did we choose adoption as opposed to having biological children? We aren’t opposed to having biological children, we intend on that being a part of our life sometime if that’s what God wants for our family. Neither of us has any fertility issues that we know of but we both agreed that if it came down to us trying for a biological child and it not happening we are not taking an drastic measures to make that happen (i.e. IVF, fertility drugs). Do we have issues with people who aren’t adopting children? Are you kidding me, if we did we wouldn’t have any friends! Not only that, it’s just not important to either of us how you decide to make your family. Adoption is something that was always a part of our lives whether it’s through having a friend that is adopted, to babysitting for an entire family that was adopted, or even knowing clients at my work who have adopted children domestically and internationally.

4. Why Ethiopia? Ethiopia was always in our top 3 choices and here’s why. 7 million children are without families in Ethiopia…7 MILLION! Most of the time the woman is unmarried which doesn’t allow her enough money to have a job and pay for childcare so the need is great! It’s a smoother process, and a shorter wait. It seems weird to say out loud but I DON’T WANT TO WAIT 4 YEARS FOR A CHILD, if I have a choice of one in 12 months instead of 48, I’m going with the 12.

The truth is, we felt God calling us in this direction. True story.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Motherhood...

I was feeling a little…ok A LOT overwhelmed about this whole process and all the paperwork and notarizing and certifying that up until this point I hadn’t let my mind focus on being a mom, an actual mother, a provider of emotional support, a shoe lace tie-er, an aggravator, a companion. I’m completely freaked about it, seriously. I’m nervous, like I have an actual nervous feeling in my stomach over the reality of being a mother. A mother. Mama. Mommy. Is this normal first time mom jitters? Is there such a thing as first time mom jitters? Help a sister out!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Excitement doesn't begin to describe it...

So we received the official acceptance letter from Holt today and we are SO PUMPED! Although if I’m being completely honest I know that what we’ve gone through in the last couple weeks from choosing a few different agencies and also choosing the country will be hands down the easiest thing out of the whole process. The next step is going to be the home study, we’ll be working with an agency called Children’s Home Society here in Florida, and it should take approximately 3-4 months.

In making the big announcement it was met with so many different comments, questions and reactions, as I expected. Given the fact that I’m a super private person at work, they were all REALLY stunned, like totally stunned…one guy just looked at me for like 5 minutes straight. My boss asked me “well who’s going to watch the baby?”…and “how long will you be taking off?”, to which I replied, “Tyler and I will be watching the baby, and I’ll be taking an equivalent of a normal maternity leave”, he responds “ok well, we’ve got to get this figured out, ’cause this could happen any minute right?”. wow. I wish.

Our immediate families are really excited which is awesome…which got me thinking. You know when a woman gets pregnant there’s an immediate connection with other women who have been pregnant or are pregnant, the ooey gooey stuff from mother’s talking about kicks and heartburn, and how many pushes it took to get the baby out. This is how people connect, I mean really strangers connect. I started to think, I’ve got to make this as much of a connecting process as possible without actually carrying the child in my belly, or passing on gene’s from our parents and grandparents. I guess initially the easiest way for me to do this is with sharing information. I’ve got to make sure I’m talking about the whole process a lot more with our parents and siblings, little insignificant details that I might not think are super important will act as yet another way for them to really feel like they’re with us and our new baby through this process. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions, it’s new to us so we might not know the answer yet but by the end we sure will.

My heart is full.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just some thoughts during my long shift...

Today I had some time to do a lot of thinking while I worked a double. Lots of time to peruse the internet, cry over adoption videos on you tube, and just try and get the ball rolling on some little things like our passports and copies of birth certificates. I was thinking today, what if I don’t feel connected to our new little one? What if I’m just not feelin’ it? I started to worry about that, I mean I know I love my dog so I’m OBVIOUSLY going to feel love for a child that technically I didn’t help create. I wonder if anyone in my family will feel the same way…I hope not. I spoke to Tyler about this via text while I was at work and he said to me “Kari, God would not have put this in our hearts only to have us NOT connect”. True story.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slowly but surely...

Today I had to make a lot of first contacts with people to get the correct information as well as deadlines and everything too. I contacted Children’s Home Society of Florida to find out what we needed to do to get the ball rolling with the home study, and was only able to leave a message around lunch time. I didn’t hear back for the rest of the day, which was kind of a bummer. I emailed back and forth with Emily at Holt making sure she didn’t need any other information from me for the application we have to do with them, from what I can tell, and what I gathered from my conversations with her….our application looks great, once she receives our previous 3 years tax information she’ll forward our file to the Ethiopia program at Holt. Then I kinda hit a wall, where is all this money going to come from? What are we getting ourselves into with all this, as far as money goes? We don’t have a lot in saving’s, we aren’t millionaires. I scoured the internet for fundraising ideas, some are so cheesy. I looked at grant options as well, and most of those don’t give you any money until after you’ve completed the home study. We’re trying to decide, to we send out a letter to friends and family? Is that weird to ask other people to help pay for your child? We know this is right, we know we’re supposed to be doing this.

I happened to turn to James the other night when I was reading my Bible and the whole first chapter was perfect…it was titled “Faith and Endurance”. Seriously. ”God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him”. James 1:12

Tomorrow afternoon we have a webinar, that focuses on adopting from Ethiopia. I’m so excited to hear what it’s all about!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And then last night...

As I was struggling to shut my brain off to this whole new possibility, I thought…we’re going to have a child that looks substantially different then we do. This of course doesn’t bother me, but I wonder if I can tolerate the people who it does bother? How do we prepare ourselves for those future conversations with our little brown baby? Then I had an interesting conversation today with a lady at work who was “concerned” that I might not be fully prepared for the aesthetic differences (i.e. skin color because really that’s ALL IT IS), to which I assured her with these words, “our whole family is going to be different, every last child we adopt or have biologically, will be able to connect THROUGH their differences and not IN SPITE OF”…she said “ok”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have it in the bag, in fact I’m totally and completely inexperienced, this I know is true, our baby (no matter the color) will be loved, and fed, and have a roof over their head.

Where are we at in all this?...

It took us a few weeks to nail down an agency, which was strange to me I thought it would have been really easy. We really had our heart set on Asia, for some weird reason we always thought that would be where we adopted from first. As we continued looking on each adoption agency web site we discovered that Asia has some very strict requirements regarding age, and also the wait is excruciatingly long. Korea is pretty much stopping any adoptions except to Korean families here in the US, and Hong Kong is strictly special needs, so needless to say we’ve hit quite a few bumps in the road already. One night after we had an agency rep tell us that maybe we needed to expand our acceptance of special needs children, I had a MAJOR meltdown, PMS perhaps but also coming to this harsh realization. Turns out the 3 countries we chose (Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan) only have children available with special needs and I just don’t know if we’re ready for that or even if we’ll ever want that. Which seems completely selfish when I say it out loud, I mean these kids don’t have anyone, and they’re there and available because they look funny or have some sort of down syndrome or even CP. They didn’t have a choice to be born like that? It’s just the hand they were dealt which sucks and here I am turning them away because of something they can’t help. When I think about it too long I think, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, and then I think am I allowed to be choosy in this situation? We both have our minds really set on Asia and it seems like right now those are the hardest countries to adopt from. When I think about it, most of the time I start crying. How bad would it suck to not have anyone, to have the only people in your life get paid to spend time with you? I would die if my picture was up on a website and someone took one look at me or read my description and said no, what does that feel like? Some of these kids are older too, outgrowing the orphanage the only place they call home. It’s hard…a lot harder then I really ever thought it would be. I’m nervous, excited, apprehensive, emotional, scared, overwhelmed, and happy all at the same time. I always kinda felt like I was cut out for something like this but now I’m starting to second guess it a little, I know I’m tough but this will be a true test. The parallels between adoption and Christ’s love for us are undeniably identical and really humbling because the truth is I’m worse off then most of those kids when it comes to Christ loving me for me.

We’ve officially gone with Holt International, filled out the application online on Friday (9/11), and now are waiting to hear from them. We have a long way to go but we’re confident this is where God wants us to be and will welcome any personal refining along the way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How it all began...

On a park bench, no joke, and definitely cliche I guess. Tyler and I were taking a walk at a park here in Altamonte called Crane’s Roost and we were people watching, which if you know me at all you know it’s my very favorite thing. I had been thinking for a little while that adoption would be an interesting journey and an awesome way to build our family, I had just never said it out loud, and then I did. What you need to understand is that I believe my husband is the most patient, understanding, and selfless person ever, he will no doubt be an AMAZING father to our children but I didn’t know that he had ever given something like this a second thought, and it turns out he had! We proceeded to talk about what countries we wanted to adopt from and how old and all those fun things…all on the park bench. So here we are, nearly 2 years after that conversation, beginning this strenuous and rewarding journey.