Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Let the fundraising begin!

Our shirt fundraiser is officially live!

Please help us raise funds for our adoption costs by buying one of these lovely shirts. You have a variety of options for colors as well as styles (short sleeve, long sleeve, hoodies, tanks, etc). Each sale will generate approximately $10 in profit for us. The funds will be used to help us pay for our first agency fee of $2900 and our home study cost which is also in that ball park. Even if you aren't interested in buying, please share this link on your blogs and facebook pages to help us spread the word! Thanks in advance! Let's get this little one home and out of an orphanage as quickly as possible!
Shirts will be available for purchase for the next 21 days, and will be shipped directly to your home.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Application Approved!

Today while I was at work I received the email I didn't think would come for a few more days... that our application to CCAI (our adoption agency) has been approved!

I felt like my heart was going to jump right out of my chest!  I guess this moment might be similar to the way someone feels after taking a positive pregnancy test... the "oh boy, this is really happening" though that's immediately followed by the "oh boy, we still have a LOT of hurdles to overcome" thought.

We celebrated tonight by getting take-out from our favorite local Chinese restaurant.  Cliche' I know, but it was all I could think of eating! :)

(One of the fortunes from the cookies tonight read: "You will be asked to step up to the plate in new ways" I'm sure that is certainly going to prove to be true!)

With this great news also came the reminder that our first agency fee is now due, which totals $2900.  Let the fundraising officially begin!

I was so excited to come home and launch the campaign for the t-shirts that I designed a couple of months ago, but unfortunately the website I'm using is giving me troubles, and their support team is only available 9am-5pm, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

So what's next for us in this adoption process?

Well, the first thing we have to do is read through and sign the 22 page set of documents that came with the approval email from our adoption agency.  Some of those forms will need to be notarized, so we will likely have to wait until Saturday morning when we can go visit a notary together (it sure is nice working for bank and having easy access to notary service!).

We also need to begin our home study process.  I chose a home study agency last week, and have gotten a whole set of forms from them that also needs to be filled out.  They have another fee that will need to be paid soon, but for now it's just a $350 application fee.

I have chosen to be very open about the different fees involved, not because I really want to draw attention to the costs, but mainly because I feel that if we are going to be asking others to contribute in the way of fundraising, I want to be very transparent about where those funds are going.

Some of you might be wondering what a home study is.  Well, to be totally honest, we are wondering the same thing ourselves, but I have gained a little bit of an idea through some research I've done.
Because the adoption agency we are using is in Colorado, and we obviously are not, we had to choose a different agency within our state to complete our home study.  A home study is the part of the application process that involves the complex "investigation" of our ability to parent, the stability of our relationship and financial situation, and the safety of our home.  After a series of meetings and a lot of paperwork, the home study agency will provide our adoption agency with a report in which they "prove" our worthiness as suitable candidates for the adoption of a child from China.  If I understand correctly, this report will then be translated and sent to China for review and approval from them.
This process will include in home meetings with a Social Worker, the review of our medical background, financial situation, and family history, letters of recommendations from friends, required parenting classes or online training, and loads and loads of paperwork. Thankfully, having worked in banking the past 5 years, paperwork is one thing I am totally used to and not at all overwhelmed by- but of course you can probably call my bluff on that a few months from now when I'm drowning in piles of certified, notarized, copies of every personal document known to man.

It's really starting to set in how real this is becoming, and how quickly.   Just a few short months ago we were having a conversation with relatives about how we just don't feel ready to begin the parenting journey, and now here we are, as ready as I'll ever be!

I attended a baby shower last night for a dear college friend, and we were discussing how surreal it is to think about the idea that my child has likely already been born.   As I was getting ready for work this morning, that thought really "set in."  I began to realize how much my heart aches to know if our child is safe, if he/she is being well cared for, and if they are being shown love from their caretakers.  Please join us in praying for the safety of our child, and for the preparation of all of our hearts as we begin this journey to become a family.  That child certainly has no idea what kind of journey lays ahead of them, and we hope that whatever we do, we can make it as smooth as possible for them.

Thanks again for following us in this crazy voyage, and please keep me posted if you have any questions you would like to see answered here.

Stay tuned for the launch of our t-shirt fundraiser!  Here's a sneak peak at the design:

Both the Chinese and the text below say "worry less, love more" and the URL for this site is printed on the back

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's REALLY happening!

Today is my half-birthday.

This is not normally a day that would ever really warrant much attention or special focus, but this year is different for one big reason.

China's requirement to apply for adoption is that each applicant has to be at least 29 1/2 years of age.

Today marks the day I reach that age.  What did we do to celebrate?  WE SUBMITTED OUR APPLICATION TO OUR AGENCY!!!!

Yes folks, this is really happening!  Ready or not, here we are!

I've had butterflies in my stomach all day thinking about this, and now that I've hit "send," I'm overwhelmed with such a wide variety of emotions... relief, anticipation, excitement, worry, stress, nausea... you name it!

Two nights ago, we also submitted a preliminary Medical Conditions Checklist, commonly referred to as a MCC.  The nice thing about that document is that they let you update it as often as you'd like.  Because it's the submission date that technically holds your spot in line for a child, we wanted to at least get ours "on the books", but it will certainly be something we will continue to research and work on as we go.  I'm hoping to enlist the support and advice of my friends and family in the medical field to help me navigate through some of the conditions we aren't familiar with.

What now?  Well, at this point we wait to hear back from our agency to see whether or not we've been approved.
We also have to submit a separate application to our Home Study agency, which I will start work on over the weekend.  We have a houseful of family members staying with us this weekend, so I need to focus my energy on getting the house ready for guests the next day or two.

Tonight my sister asked me if I was really ready to become a "mommy."  My response was "well, in some ways yes, in other ways no... but the ways in which I do not feel ready I don't think I ever will... so here goes nothing!"  It's really the little things that get us so excited, like the thought of this possibly being our last Christmas without a little one the house, and the thought of seeing our beloved dogs bond to our child, and family walks around our neighborhood that get me the most excited.

As soon as we have an approval back on our application we will be kicking in to heavy fundraising mode.  We'll just just a couple of months to come up with almost $5000 to cover our first agency fee as well as hour home study fee.  I have a few ideas for fundraisers that we plan on doing.  The first one will be a T-Shirt fundraiser, followed by a yard sale/bake sale/pop can drive, and then we will also likely be doing something to send out with Christmas Cards.  I'm hoping not to have to do too many event-style fundraisers, as I know our home study is going to pre-occupy most of our free time outside of work, but we will see what happens.  We're committed to doing whatever it takes to bringing home our son or daughter as quickly as possible.

This also means we make dramatic changes to our budget.  June and July included our last trips that we will take, most likely until we go to China to pick up our child.  We spent a week camping in the Upper Peninsula, and enjoyed every last minute of it.  We will also do everything we can to save money wherever possible, including not eating out, avoiding spending money on unnecessary house projects, new clothes, etc.  

Well, that's all for now!  I just felt it would have been silly not to write a post on this VERY important day in our journey, and I know it's been a while since my last update.  We've been busy enjoying summer, taking care of our fur-kids, and doing as much research on China and on adoptions as possible.

If you have any questions about the process, or about anything related to China Adoptions, please let me know in the way of a comment and I will be happy to do a post that tries to answer all of the questions I get in.

Please pray for us these next few days as we wait to hear back from our agency.

If you'd like to learn more about them, you can visit their webpage at: www.ccaifamily.org

Friday, July 3, 2015

Freedom Reflections

I've been working my way through a great collection of short stories, titled "Carried in Our Hearts", compiled by Dr. Jane Aronson.
I found these two excerpts so provoking, heading into this Holiday weekend focused on celebrating the freedom of our country, I just had to share them.

"The fight for freedom is not only waged on an economic and political level but also on a personal level in the heart. The freedom to love and be loved, freedom from fear and abuse, and freedom from anger and desperation are as important as political freedom." -Nancy Jo Johnson

"What we have learned about adoption thus far is that a child on the other side of the world whom you may have yet to meet, who doesn't look like you, and who may not even speak your language, can bless and inform your life in immeasurable ways. There are countless children around the world who are born into unthinkable circumstances and hunger for love, hope, and deliverance. Our journey serves as a poignant reminder that each of these children is real and individual, not part of a critical mass too sizable to serve and protect. Each has a little face that smiles and cries, little hands that grasp and pray, and a little heart that feels and needs." -Meredith Kendall Valdez

As we celebrate our many freedoms this weekend I invite you to also pray for the possible freedoms of the many orphans worldwide.

That's all for today!