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I own you.

23 Apr

I had posted a “quick” update awhile ago here, but I really wanted to explain our homestudy for those who have been asking. The homestudy is probably the most involved part of the adoption…so far.

The outside of our tiny 1188 sq. ft. condo. 

With our massive paperwork, Jeremy and I each had to write a 6-10 page autobiography on ourselves. It was tedious.

As our homestudy interviews approached, we spent some time talking to Lil’ B about adopting. To be honest, I really didn’t want to explain it to him so early at first. Mainly because, at 6 years old, he doesn’t have a concept of time yet and the Philippines program (which at that point, we were still in) is a 2+ year process. I didn’t want to tell him today that he might have a lil’ brother or sister, then it not happen for 2 years. But we knew the case worker would be asking Lil’ B some questions and we felt it was best to prepare him for it.  Lil’ B’s mom is well aware of us planning to adopt; we told her about it last summer and she has been very supportive with our decision. In fact, she even wrote one of our referral letters for us. ❤  I’m not sure how much she had been telling/explaining to Lil’ B, but I assume she might have said something to him.

One evening as Lil’ B and I were veggin’ on the couch, watching TV, some commercial about babies came on.
Out of nowhere, Lil’ B says. “I want a brother”
Me: “I know, hun. You know daddy and I are adopting a brother or sister, right?”
Lil’ B: “Yeah.”
Me: “Do you know what adoption means?”
Lil’ B: “That they don’t have an owner yet”

Owner. He said owner. Ohhh I laughed.

Me: (trying to contain my laugher) “Well…it means that those kids don’t have a family and we’re going to adopt a brother or sister and they will be apart of our family.”
Lil’ B: “Ohhh. I don’t want to know where babies come from.”
Me: (still laughing): Well, one day you’ll want to know”
Lil’ B: I don’t want to know where babies come from” (saying it a bit firmer)
Me: When you’re ready to know, you can come ask me, your dad or your mom.

Ohh…trying to explain it on a kids level…not easy!

When the case worker came to our house for a 3 hour interview. Yes…3 hours. She mainly asked us questions pertaining to our autobiographies; things that she just wanted to verify or have us elaborate more about. She asked us a lot about our relationships with our families and how our parents treated us growing up. Of course, she also asked Jeremy and I questions about each other; our personalities, our likes and dislikes and how we handle our anger. She asked Lil’ B about 2 or 3 questions; if he wanted to be a big brother, if he’d rather have a brother or sister, questions appropriate for a child to answer. And then Lil’ B gave her a tour of the house (which lasted a whole 5 minutes or less).

Spare room/Computer room…which will eventually be our new lil’ one’s room

After the homestudy interviews, the case worker writes a whole report on you. It pretty much lists everything anyone could ever know about you, your finances, your childhood, every school you ever went to, your family, your reasons to adopt…everything. Our report was about 14 pages long. No kidding.

AND that’s where we’re at now. We’re waiting for our agency to “re-write” our homestudy. Our original homestudy was specific to the Philippines, so now they have to take out any reference to the Philippines and replace it with Korea. Also the “Child Conditions” form (the hardest form to ever fill out; it lists just about every medical condition a person could be born with and we have to say if it’s something we can handle or not) is different for the Korea program than the Philippines, so we had to re-do that paperwork, since there is a section in the homestudy that lists what you are able to accept and handle medically. Once we receive our *new* homestudy, we fill out the I-600A form, send it in (with our homestudy)….and then we are on the wait list. woot, woot!

Anyone adopting read my blog? How did you explain to the kids in your family (whether they be sons, daughters, cousins, nieces, nephews or other) about your adoption?

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Updates!

22 Mar

Ohhh I know…it’s been waaay to long since I’ve updated everyone. Eeep! I do apologize for that! Lots have happened since I last posted an update. The good, the bad and the ugly.

The good.

  • In December we finished the first part of our massive paperwork. Phew.
  • We also had our homestudy done in January and are homestudy approved! woot, woot!

The bad & ugly.
After 9 months of paperwork and a few thousand dollars into this, we found out that we will not be adopting from the Philippines after all.
Even though the first and main question I asked at our initial information meeting (back in June 2010) was about the religious requirements, it seems that after ALL this time, we won’t meet that requirement (Parent must demonstrate a relationship of at least 5 years with a religious or spiritual organization.). Our agency didn’t catch this until now. Now, after we’ve already had our minds and hearts set on the Philippines. Now, after we already are emotionally and financially invested. They did try to “fix” this; our agency sent our religious affiliation letter to the Philippines for pre-approval (before we got any farther in the process), but it seems that, even though the Philippines is okay with us and our letter (they really didn’t want to refuse a Filipino family a Filipino child), they don’t think it will pass the Inter-County Adoption Board (ICAB) since it is a requirement for the Philippines. And if the ICAB doesn’t approve, then our dossier would never make it to the Philippines, regardless. 😦
We are a little heart-broken. We were really looking forward to adopting from the Philippines and still being able to share that cultural background with our child.

Back to The good.

  • We have decided to continue our adoption journey and adopt from Korea!
  • Luckily, the $$ we spent up to date and most of the paperwork we’ve already done will transfer over to the Korea program.
  • There are MANY pros to us adopting from Korea:
  1.  No dossier! Once we are homestudy approved (which we already are), our homestudy gets sent to the agency in Korea, we send paperwork to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and we are on the wait list!
  2. This brings us to pro #2, shorter wait times! With the Philippines, we had an estimated 2 year wait. Korea’s average wait time is 1 year or less to receive a referral.
  3. We could bring home a younger child. The youngest we could adopt from the Philippines was 2 years old; we could get placed with a child as young as 7 months from Korea. I think we’re still going to aim for toddler age, but we’ll see. ;o)
  4.  One of my Besties is half-Korean. After talking to her on the phone, she seemed pretty excited for us and I am totally going to be expecting her to be the favorite “Auntie”. 😉

Summary:
We are not adopting from the Philippines anymore. 😦 BUT we will be adopting from Korea. AND that means we could have an addition to our family by this time next year! That also means that we need to get our arse in gear and fundraise! When adopting from the Philippines, we thought we had 2 years to raise and save money. Now it looks like we’ll need to save and raise a lot more, a lot sooner. So this is where I ask you to help out! If you haven’t scored one of our awesome “Adoption Rock’s” shirts, puuuulease do! I also have toddler sizes and totebags available. Or donate $1.50 and get an awesome sticker!

The longest day of my life.

29 Oct

Wednesday was the looongest day of my life…to date.

On Wednesday, Jeremy and I were schedule to attend the homestudy course in Perkasie. The homestudy class is a one day, 8 hour class on parenting an adoptive child. They only hold the class one day a month and it’s mandatory to attend to continue forward with the homestudy process; i.e.. you can not meet with the social worker ’til you complete this course.

So I take a day off from work, Jeremy (who works 3rd shift) got out of work an hour early so we can hike the 2 hours to Perkasie. The class starts at 9am; we were on the road around 6am. Plenty of time in case we hit traffic or get lost.

We are trekkin. The GPS is telling me that we will arrive at 8:20am. Awesome.

With plenty of time to spare, I decide to stop at a rest stop while we’re still on the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike. I get back into the car….and the car won’t start. It’s like the battery is dead. It turns over a bit, but it just won’t start. I start to freak a little. Jeremy tells me to let the car sit for 5 minutes or so then try again. We do this and when we try to start the car again, it actually starts. Sigh of relief!

We’re trekkin’ again. We’re only 12 miles from our exit. Almost there…

My car starts to slow down. I mean, I have the gas peddle floored and my car won’t go faster than 65 miles an hour…and it’s slowing down. 58 miles an hour. 45 miles an hour. What is going on?!

Then all the lights come on…the battery light, the oil light, the engine light. What? My car starts smoking. Massive white smoke is coming from my hood. Eff! We are 2.7 miles away from our exit and my car is smoking. I totally freak out.

We call AAA, they have a tow truck coming. I call our adoption agency, of course they don’t open ’til 8:30 (it’s about 8:20 at this point), so I leave a message explaining that we’re supposed to attend their class at 9am, we’re about 15 miles away and stranded. I also call our social worker so she knows what’s going on. 

30 minutes later a tow truck comes. By the time he hooks up our car to the tow truck and we’re back on the road it’s 10 after 9am. Shit, we’re already late for our class. AND to top it off, the tow guy thinks I might have blown my motor. Awesome.

We and the car gets dropped off at Pep Boys in Quakertown. By this time the agency had called me back. They initially asked if we just wanted to reschedule the class. I think this is where I got a bit emotional. Reschedule? Are you kidding me? I took time off from work (as did Jeremy), we drove 2 hours and are only 12 miles away. My car is probably done for. I didn’t come this far only to have to do it again a month later. No way. We NEED to attend this class. They were nice enough to say that if we could make it, to still come.

Anxious to still make it to the class I asked Pep Boys if there is a cab service around, nope. And no one from Pep Boys or our agency is willing to drive us the 12 miles. Great. So, we rented a car. Of course that took another hour or so, to have someone from the car rental place pick us up from Pep Boys, take us back to their office and do the paperwork for a car rental. This was becoming a very expensive trip.

Finally. We’re on our way to the agency to attend the homestudy class. 12-ish miles. No problem. Well, our luck didn’t end there. We (along with about 20 other cars) got stuck behind a wideload vehicle going 10 miles an hour. During this time, I get a call back from Pep Boys saying that my car is shot. It needs a whole new engine. Yup, you heard me right. An engine. Apparently a tube under my hood had leaked or broke or whatever. This caused ALL the oil to leak out of my car, all over the engine. Ruining everything. Did I mention that my car is a 2002 Toyota RAV4? Not exactly brand new, but not exactly old either. ::sigh:: FML.

1130am we made it to our homestudy class. 2.5 hours late, 2 hours from home with no car. Yay. Poor Jeremy, on top of everything that happened, he was soooo tired. Working 3rd shift, this class was during his normal sleeping hours. I was emotionally exhausted, he was emotionally AND physically exhausted.

The homestudy class itself was good. There were 2 other couples there and a single woman also in the adoption process. One of the other couples is also adopting from the Philippines, so it was nice to meet another couple who was pretty much at the same spot we are in the process. Considering the circumstances of the day, Jeremy and I had stayed positive and made the best of the day.

5pm the class was over. Since we had already paid for a 24 hour car rental, we decided to drive the 2 hours home with it. Jeremy had to be at work at 10:30pm that night. With little sleep, he wasn’t looking forward to it.

Thursday morning, I had to take another day off of work and drive back to Quakertown with the rental car and my dad following me with his truck (so I would have a ride home). I had to turn in the rental, find a junk yard to pick my car up (only got $250 for my car…that just so happens to have a new transmission in it), drive the 2 hours back home and start looking for a new car. ::sigh:: And I was still emotionally drained from the day before. Jeremy and I looked at cars, but we really didn’t even know where to begin; we weren’t planning on having to buy a new/er car for another year or two. We definitely didn’t expect our finances to have a hit like this. ::sigh:: It definitely could have been worse, but someone isn’t making this easy for us.

I had brought along my camera, hoping to get photos of the beautiful Pearl S. Buck buildings, obviously that was the last thing on my mind. Nor did I think to take photos of my car smoking to share with all of you. 😛 I talked about signs in a previous post, hopefully this isn’t a sign for things to come.

Now the car search begins.

The Adoption Process

12 Oct

 

I’ve had quite a few friends ask me what’s involved in the adoption process. I thought it would just be easier to write it all down for you*.
Hopefully I will be able to quickly check all these items off the list!

First there is the initial application. For our agency, it’s called the “fact sheet”. Or what I like to refer to as the application before the application. Once our agency receives this, they send us a packet to “finish” our application. The paperwork and documents required to complete our application will be used in our Homestudy and Dossier later, so a lot of the paperwork that we are to complete now, is for our packets later.

Alright, ready to see the loooong list?

  • Service Agreement – signed and notarized
  • Fee Policy – signed
  • Hague Training form (I’ll get into this later)
  • Financial Statement – notarized. This is where we explain our financial background, income, debts, insurance, etc. This gets submitted with a signed and notarized copy of our most recent 1040 income tax form.
  • Medical Examination Report – Jeremy, my step-son and I must each get examined by a physician. For Jeremy and I, this includes an urinalysis, TB testing, blood work, etc…
  • Photographs – Photos will be sent to the overseas agency with our dossier.
    We must include: 1- 8×10 photo of Jeremy and I, 1 photos of us and step-son, photos of extended family, 2 photos of outside of our home, photos of the inside of our home.
  • Letter from employer – Must include current position, annual salary, length of time with the company in current position and a statement addressing job security (must obtain 2 copies with signatures).
  • Certified copies of birth certificates
  • Certified copies of marriage certificate
  • Reference letters – Must be completed by 4 people who are not related to us. These references are confidential and the forms are sent directly to the agency by our reference. More references will be needed when we get to our dossier.
  • Risks in Intercountry Adoption paperwork – signed
  • Philosophy and Policy on Discipline – signed
  • Civil Rights Compliance – signed
  • Child Conditions Form – This has to be one of the hardest forms to fill out. It lists just about every birth defect a child could have (from asthma to mental retardation) and we have to go through it and list if we are capable of providing for this child (mentally, physically and financially) or not.
  • Autobiography – Jeremy and I each have to write our own autobiography. Must be 6-10 pages long. Yikes!!
  • Child Abuse background check
  • Criminal background check
  • FBI fingerprint check
  • Pre-file I-800A with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services

Did I mention this is for just our application (although some paperwork will also be used for our dossier)? The agency recommends that we complete ALL documents within 60 days of our face sheet. Yup, 2 months. Talk about pressure! This is just the first step! I haven’t gotten into the social worker meetings (that is for the Homestudy) or the dossier packet.

The dossier package of documents is compiled and submitted to the Intercountry Adoption Board. Its is the way that they get to know us. Once it is approved, they will use the information within to match us to our child. Including much of the information on the list above, we will also need for our dossier:

  • Psychological evaluations
  • Character reference from a religious leader
  • Character reference from community member
  • Application Form for Intercounty Adoption

And then we wait. This could easily take up to 24 months of waiting. Maybe more, maybe less.

Once we get the anticapated call with a referral, we then finish filing our I-800 application, finalize travel plans and fly to the Philippines to pick up our lil’ one.

So, for all my friends who have been asking how the process is going, it’s going. And it will be going for awhile.

*Please note that every country and agency is different, so my paperwork requirements might differ from others.

::heart:: our agency

17 Sep

Here is the short list of reasons why we luuuurved Pearl S. Buck International Welcome House:
1. They accept ALL religions. I read through a few adoption blogs out there and it seems like EVERYONE is Christian. Even when I was researching agencies, a lot of them were Christian based. Not a big deal, but it was refreshing to find an agency that was a non-sectarian, non-denominational organization and does not discriminate on the basis of religion; especially since we are not Christian.
2. Reason #1 leads me to believe that Pearl S. Buck is open-minded. They also “accept” same-sex couples. Love it.
3. They are non-profit.
4. They aren’t done with you when the adoption is final. They offer tons of counseling, support groups, and cultural events for you and your family to enjoy! Whether you are an adoptee, an adoptive parent, or birth relative, the Welcome House Search Program can assist you if the adoption was processed through Welcome House or the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. How cool is that?!
5. We loved Pearl S. Buck because we found other people who adopted through them and loved them too. Word of mouth from other people is the best testimate there is!

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