Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Got our finger print appointments!

Woohoo!!  We're getting closer!  Our appointments are July 12 at 3pm.  Once we get those done, it shouldn't be long after that that we receive our approval!  We have almost everything for our dossier.  Just need to get a couple of straggling things left (including new notarized copies of our home study and documents from our social worker :-/  the expiration date of the notary's stamp was for 9 months out, and they have to expire no sooner than 12 months from the signing of the document per Darya's country requirements, go figure).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Must Read Blog

This family just got back from adopting two precious little girls with Down syndrome.  They have three biological sons, just like us, but then went on to adopt 2 girls from China and then 2 more from Ukraine (through Reece's Rainbow).  Here is an eye-opening, heart-breaking post.  I encourage you to read it (along with their other posts):

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A smidgen of movement

I just got a call from Officer Larsen at USCIS and she let me know that she got our home study yesterday and it's in her "to-do" pile for today!  So *hopefully* that means our finger print appointments will come by next week???  Now I'll back off from trampling our mailman for the next couple of days :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy 4th anniversary, Reece's Rainbow!


No one likes to have the feeling of being helpless or out of control.  As far as adoptions go, ours is moving on target.  But I have still been battling anxiety, especially on days when I feel like no progress or movement is happening on the adoption front.  I anxiously checked the mail this morning to find nothing but junk, no finger print appointments and no home study and other documents from our social worker.  I am constantly being reminded of this verse:

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

This adoption experience is like nothing I've gone through before!  It is a sanctifying and patience-teaching adventure, to be sure.  But it has a beautiful end in sight!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Creative outlet

Sometimes I get the hankering to make something.  I'm not a really crafty person but enjoy making simple projects.  It's all about instant gratification.  I took up knitting a few years back, and though I can knit a scarf or a beanie hat, it can take too long.  I have to be in the right mood.  Anyway, lately I've been wanting to sew something and try my hand at appliqué.  It's a way to relieve some of this adoption anxiety!  I made the dress below for my dear friend Shelli's little girl.  The shirt with the bird silhouette is for Amanda's adorable little girl, Naomi.  (Shelli and Amanda are friends from church, and they're sisters, too).  The whale one I made for Darya (it was a hand-me-down and had a stain - the whale strategically covers it!).  Now I want to make a bunch of appliqué shirts!  It was so fun, so easy, and there are so many cute ideas on and elsewhere on the web. Watch out friends, you might find yourself the victim of one of my next craft project!  Just hope that it's not a toaster cover ;-)

Oh, also today I received a voicemail from the Missouri USCIS office and the officer is going to be keeping an eye out for our home study!  I hope we get our finger print appointments soon!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Father's Perspective: Planting a Seed

Adoption has been in my heart for quite a long time, at least the idea of adoption has appealed to me. I’m not exactly sure why. I do have three adopted cousins, two on one side of the family and one on the other, so there’s that. But whatever the reason, Marianne and I have always toyed with the idea of adoption, and even before we had any biological children of our own we had talked about the possibility of adoption. But talking about adoption and adopting are two different things. And though it was an idea that had always appealed to me, it was an idea that began to take root first in Marianne’s heart.
What had only ever been an idea began to grow into a real and ardent desire about a year and a half ago. I had flown to California to attend a conference. While there I spent a couple of nights in the home of the Franciscos (some dear friends from my seminary days). There was nothing all that unusual about the visit; just a good time hanging out with David and Julie and the kids. I always love hangin’ with those Frisco kids (see the photo at the bottom of this post).
One of the kids (Andrew) has Down syndrome. He’s a cute little guy with beautiful eyes, a big heart, and his father’s sandy red hair (which like his father he’s probably destined to lose). Anyway one night we were all just sitting around talking and somehow the subject turned to another beautiful child with Down syndrome, a little girl whom Julie had just heard was to be given up for adoption.  Her parents did not want to keep her once they discovered she had Down syndrome shortly after birth.  Julie knew that we had considered the idea of adopting in the past and so with a giggle and a grin threw out the suggestion that we should adopt this little girl. I remember just sort of laughing it off and saying something like… “Well you’ll have to run it by Marianne first.”
I really didn’t think she would… but she did. What happened after that is simply what you’d expect to happen when a good seed is planted in fertile soil…it began to grow. This little seed of an idea began to take root in my wife’s tender heart, and before long she was scouring the internet for information on adoption and Down syndrome. What she found was alarming, and only served to shower water on this budding idea. Since prenatal testing for Down syndrome began in the United States, a vast majority of those whose children were likely to be born with Downs were “terminating their pregnancies” (i.e. – aborting their children). Coming to terms with these horrific statistics in themselves was a bit mind numbing, but the net effect of it all was that there just were not very many children with Down syndrome available for adoption in the United States.  The babies that do make it to see the light of day and who are are given up for adoption, find families very quickly.  That was the case of the baby girl that Julie knew about. Before we could even seriously consider it, another family found her quickly.
That’s when Marianne discovered Reece’s Rainbow. Reece’s Rainbow is a non-profit organization that essentially functions as an advocacy group that seeks to find loving families for special needs children throughout the world. Although if you’re reading this blog you’re probably well aware of their fabulous work on behalf of these orphans…if you’re not familiar with them, we invite you to click our link to their site and get to know this wonderful organization. As it turns out, there are many children with Down syndrome in need of families; they’re just not in the United States. They’re in a thousand orphanages scattered throughout the world, and in one of those orphanages is our precious Darya.
And that is how this little seed planted in my wife’s heart began to grow. Watered by the grace of God at work in her heart and nurtured by the rays of light beaming from the faces of a thousand beautiful orphans on her computer screen, the little seed sprouted.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Some movement

I got an email this morning from the Jacksonville USCIS office and they're going to forward our homestudy to the Missouri office!  That means shortly after they get it, we'll get our fingerprinting appointments!  Woohoo

Also, I decided to squeeze in one more class before we leave for Darya.  I figured I might as well get 3 more credits under my belt before adding number 4 to our crew.  It's an art class and counts as my arts/humanities prerequisite. It sounds like a lot of fun, and I think it will be low stress and I doubt much if any homework!  Scratch that!  I decided not to take it in the hopes that we may travel before it's over!  It ends August 11.  Is it wrong for a mom to dream of going that soon?? :-) Also, it might be nice to have absolutely nothing scheduled this summer.  Just relax and have fun with my family!  For those of you that don't know, I started back at school earlier this year.  I'm on the slow track in the hopes of becoming an RN (it will take several years at my pace).  I have a degree from Bible college (where I met Joel), but alas none of those classes transfer so I'm starting from ground zero.  That's totally fine.  But as busy as I may be, it's nothing like my mom!  At one point, she was taking something like 30 credits, working full-time, and raising 6 kids!!  That's equivalent to walking uphill in the snow both ways over a mile to school.

Friday, June 11, 2010


So I called USCIS to check in on our I-600A application.  Our social worker was supposed to have sent it directly to our regional USCIS office last week so I just wanted to follow up.  I thought sending it directly there, would expedite the process.  (In email, I was told from someone at the Jax office that I could just have it sent directly there rather than to the main office where they process all applications, since they would be getting our file anyway). Well, it turns out that the regional offices no longer receive the files and do not process them anymore (someone please tell that to the Jax office??). Well, someone at the main office is going to email them and have them send our home study directly to their office, located in Missouri. Once they receive it there, then we should get our fingerprint appointments.


But my husband graciously reminded me today that I need to see what has been accomplished so far, to help me put things in perspective.  From the time we committed to the idea of adopting a child with DS, we thought it would take several years. But it's been just a matter of months. We have the support of family and friends (I know many people have received negative comments and no support).  Finances have been provided.  There are no major glitches with the paperwork and notary signatures (a few bumps, but nothing big).  I have so much to be thankful for!!  Darya is so worth it!  I have no reason to complain when I have a loving family, roof over my head, clothes on my back, my health, and most of all my Savior.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Questions anyone?

There are still so many unknowns, even to us, about details of our adoption process.  For instance, we hope to have our first visit with Darya in August, but that's not for sure.  We just can guesstimate that and work to that goal.  It is my hope to have our FBI fingerprint appointments and get the I-171H (permission from US immigration) done within a month.  At this point, we're just waiting to hear from USCIS.  We should receive a card in the mail with our FBI fingerprint appointments and location on it.  Our social worker, I believe, has sent our home study to them directly for us, which is the last thing they need in order to give us that date.  After they receive everything and approve us, we will receive the I-171H, which will be sent to Darya's country with the rest of the dossier (doss-ee-ay). From then it will be about 6 weeks from the time we ship our dossier, which is the big stack of official paperwork, to our SDA appointment where we receive Darya's file and accept it.  

Anyway, I just wondered if anyone had any questions about our adoption or Darya or anything?

From Shelli: Are you allowed to correspond with Darya in any way? For instance, could you send her a soft picture frame with your photo in it to have now? Just wondering :-).
Unfortunately no.  Because of the way adoption works in her country, we don't have an official referral for her until our SDA appointment, and therefore neither she nor her orphanage has any idea we are coming for her until right before we arrive.  If we sent something, it would come as a surprise and I'm not sure if that's good or not, or it might even be discouraged.   If another family goes to her orphanage, I may be able to send something (but whether or not she really gets it is up to the orphanage workers).  I really don't know.  I would love to, though!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Father's Perspective

Hello blog-o-sphere. This is Joel…the adoring husband of the primary author of this blog. My lovely wife Marianne has asked me to write a few posts on our adoption process from a father’s perspective. So in the next several posts (I plan to write on Wednesdays) I intend to narrate my journey down this road to adoption. Or perhaps I should rather say down this road to Darya, because ultimately the goal at the end of this road of adoption is a person. Waiting for us at the end of this path in an obscure Eastern European orphanage is a lovely little girl with almond shaped chocolate brown eyes and cute little ears that bend out slightly from beneath wisps of sandy brown hair.
This little girl turns two years old today. Two years without a family. Two years without a mother to love her and read to her. Two years without a father to dote on her and sing hymns softly to her as she falls asleep. Two years without brothers to protect her and play with her. Two years old today, but there will be no birthday party, no one to celebrate the day of her birth or to remind her how she was fearfully and wonderfully made; at least not in the country of her birth. But some 17,000 miles away on the other side of the globe there is an equally obscure family in North Florida that is celebrating her birthday, and longing for the day when she will be with them. This is the tale of how I came to love this little girl I’ve never met…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I love our bank notaries!

We took 16 documents to be notarized to our bank yesterday.  Our usual trusty notary was busy, so another lady notarized our documents.  It went perfectly! I've heard stories about notaries messing up, but yet again no re-dos necessary!  A huge relief, to be sure.

There are just a handful of documents we need left.  They are biggies, of course, like our home study and I-171H.  Now we're hoping to be there by mid-August for our first trip.  I am chomping at the bit!!

Hopefully USCIS (immigration) will get our home study soon (this week?) so we can get our FBI fingerprint appointments underway.  Once we get our approval, we'll make the drive out to Tallahassee to have everything apostilled and immediately shipped to Darya's country!  It just can't come soon enough.

Oh, and by the way, tomorrow is her 2nd birthday!!  It will be her last without a family and next year she'll have a big ole cake!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nothing new to report

I really had good intentions on posting on here more often.  However, there is nothing new to report on the adoption front.  I thought we were supposed to have the final draft of our home study this week, but alas nothing in the mail.  I contacted our social worker and she was supposed to put it in the mail yesterday and send it directly to our regional USCIS office in Jacksonville. That is the only thing holding us back at this point.  The tricky part is that her current license expires on June 9 (Darya's birthday!) and she doesn't have her new one on hand yet.  So, hopefully USCIS will accept her current one, otherwise she can send a copy once her new license arrives.  I just want to get our FBI fingerprints done so we can get our "Golden Ticket" (aka: the U.S. govt's permission to adopt).  Once we have that, and everything for our dossier is complete we'll ship it off to Darya's country to translate, review, and give us an invitation. Please continue to pray that things will get rolling! This is definitely a test of my patience....refining fire ;-)

On another note, I shared this photo on Facebook this morning but thought I'd share it on here, too.  The hydrangeas and gardenias are in full bloom!  The boys helped me put some in a bouquet which we are now enjoying on the kitchen table.  I love how the Lord has given even the beautiful flowers for us to enjoy!