Thursday, November 29, 2012

moving along

...... we received notice from the Department of Homeland Security that USCIS has received our paperwork and we should be going to Birmingham for our "biometrics" appointment in about two weeks (fingers crossed). Biometrics is the fancy term for fancy fingerprints. I emailed our agency today asking when we should expect to be approved by India since that seems to be the last stage in this process, assuming our fingerprints are accepted without any snags. We are (maybe super-duper overly) optimistic that we will have a referral by early 2013.

Our adoption fundraising is plugging along, too. We've raised $5,000 with my photography business exchanging donations for free photo sessions. All together we've raised about $9,500 since June. Not too shabby and proof of God's faithfulness. He has provided every penny and right on time.

When I can remember, I take a photo of the checks I receive for photo donations. A third party is handling all donations and sending them to our agency. It's been such a blessing to see how God has used what was once a hobby, turn into a part-time career, turn into to a way to help not only bring our orphan home but one day help other orphans, too. I often say I am living Proverbs 16:3 Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place. What other way can I explain how all of this has fallen into place? 

Just God doing his thing and I'm grateful he's chosen our family for this journey. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


We got some encouraging news today! After the day I had yesterday, God knew just what I needed to hear. I love it when he does that.

(thanks God)

We received our immigration paper work a few days ago (the I800A) and we were told to wait until our home study had been approved by the state to send it off to USCIS.

Well, we found out today that our home study has been approved by the state of Alabama! Finally! Praise God! 

All we need to do is sign the I800A and send a money order for $890 <gulp> to USCIS. We plan to do this first thing tomorrow! The next step will be our final finger printing in Birmingham which *should* take place next month.  Today we were also registered with CARA, Central Adoption Resource Authority. This is the body that governs all Indian adoptions!! Yay, another praise! When I received the email from our agency, with the screen shot of our registration, they said to print it for her baby book.

Baby book? Wow.
It's so much more tangible.

After weeks of paper work and weeks of waiting, it's refreshing to see progress being made.

This is for your baby book Mia. Can't wait to share it with you. <3

Monday, September 17, 2012

Since you may have wondered...

Several people have asked and finally we have AN UPDATE! We were hoping to begin our home study in July but that didn't happen. So instead we started in September. I'm pretty sure most of the process will be like this, set a goal, wait and reach it 2-3 months later than planned. But that's ok. We stay so busy with everyday life that time is passing quickly. We've completed two in home visits with our social worker so far. I wasn't sure what to expect and a little nervous about the whole process. Of course we cleaned the house, not every room thoroughly but she did look in every room. She asked basic safety questions about fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, pet shot records, medications out of reach, etc. We talked a lot (and I do mean a lot) about our life growing up, our families, grandparents, siblings, our children. The social worker mentioned India was particularly concerned about whether an adoptive parent could love an adopted child the same as a birth child. When this statement was presented to me I couldn't help but get emotional. As a kindergarten teacher, I form a bond with my students and I get to love them for a school year. If I can love 20 little kinders, there is no doubt in my heart that I could love another child just as much. There were several subjects we touched on that were emotional and I had to tell the social worker that I am not a crier - nor am I emotionally unstable!  Maybe she believed me... c: So what happens next? 

  • Our social worker will present the rough draft of our home study to us for review in about a week. 
  • Once we approve it, the home study will then have to be approved by DHR (Dept of Human Resources)
  • Then our home study will be sent to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
  • Our agency is working on the I800A now  and will send it to us to sign and mail off with a nice chunk of change. 
  • Once it's received, we will be assigned an appointment to be fingerprinted (again) in Birmingham. 
  • A few weeks after our fingerprints are received, we should receive our I797, which is our immigration approval. This means we are approved to adopt from India!!! Shewww! Easy, right? AFTER we jump through all these hoops, we can then register with CARA and wait for a referral (i.e. sweet, precious, little girl) 
In the meantime, we are working on our dossier. It is basically *another* set of documents needed to process the adoption of a child from India, much like the information we collected for the final application. 

We are also raising as much money as we can to go towards our adoption so please consider booking a photo session to receive "free" photos in exchange for a donation. Details here - FREE PHOTO SESSION Also, one of our generous friends is offering a free music download for adoption donations, check it out here FREE MUSIC Please help us spread the word!! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When God called us to adopt....

  • it seemed overwhelming
  • He didn't always have a clear plan, at least not one we fully understood
  • it was and still is frustrating at times
  • having a true support system has been difficult to find
  • it seemed quite impossible from every angle 
but in it all, HE has called us to adopt, and HE will show us the way. God will provide peace, enouragement, and endurance to face this journey. Who am I to doubt God or His plan for our family?

Sadly, who are we to doubt, discourage, or judge God's plan for others? How many times have I done that? Many times, I am sure. How many times has it been done to me? Many times, I know!

In these times, I will rely on the God, His word, and His promises, and not that of man.

And that is all.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bragging on God

We have one more sheet to complete, a few more items to notarize and we're just a few dollars short of having our final application complete and ready to send to our agency so we can begin our home study. Last week I prayed specifically for God to send us $xxxx. As the week went by I was floored to see all He was sending our way... between photography sessions, personal items we've sold and generous donations by those that love us and believe in us, God not only sent what we asked for but DOUBLE. And then some. 

No lie. 

Last weekend I began praying over our adoption, praying for His will, praying He would send a few more dollars our way. Again, He has been faithful and sent us MORE than I prayed for AND it's only Monday. 

Thank you Lord, for blessing us more than we deserve. Thank you for giving us guidance and faith to move forward. Thank you for being a God that provides for all of our needs. Thank you for choosing a precious little girl for our family and causing our paths to meet - whenever that may be. Thank you for just being You.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Just a random photo from today -- fun with our puppy, Nugget, in Braden's bunk bed. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Am I the only one disturbed by this?

If you want to apply for an adoption loan you must have a completed home study (which costs upwards of $8,000, mind you), letters of reference, approval from your adoption agency, AND the interest rate is  over 9% (for 84 months).

Yet should you choose to finance a car you can get an unbelievable interest rate for 0%. Need a mortgage, only 3.4%.  A new boat, a meager 4.9% rate of interest. What about an RV?  Just 4.9% for up to 143 months (!!) 

Am I the only one disturbed by this? Worldly possessions are cheaper to finance than giving an orphan a home? Seriously? 


In my state of annoyance today I had a friend tell me this, Stand up and say, "The same God that put this desire in my heart will provide every dollar for us to bring my baby girl home" (thank you Cindy!) So, I said, I printed out, and I believe it. 

And with that, we begin fundraising. I've rolled this out earlier this week and received a great response so far :) Please help us spread the word! We still have a slew of other ideas so hopefully you all won't be sick of me over the next few months... 

For photo info click here 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy {Day After} Father's Day

... to all the awesome dads out there... especially my sweet husband, whose Godly example of love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and total obedience to God is so very inspiring. How lucky are we?

Can't wait to plop another kiddo in for a quick Iphone shot, pop on my fisheye adaptor, and torture them all with endless pictures.... after all, that's what I do best!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another duh moment

I've been attempting to get our bank letter ready for our final application. In order to do so we needed a total of the amount of deposits for the last 12 months. Scott went to the credit union and got all the paper work for deposits a few days ago. I was going to bring it by the bank today. As I looked over the pages and pages for each month, I recalled someone telling me I'd need to highlight and total each month and bring it in with me. Well, that hadn't been done so I went to work accomplishing this task while sitting in the bank parking lot. Do you know how hard it is to stare at numbers and lots and lots (lots!!) of withdrawals trying to pick out the coveted DEPOSIT? Good grief, my eyes hurt after going through about 100 pages of numbers. Then once I finished I realized at the back page of each month is a statement that tells how many deposits there are. Really? Really. Duh.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm a dork

I eagerly sent off for my birth certificate from the state of Georgia. I've been waiting an eternity for it, like 2.5 weeks. I saw the letter in my mail box and was elated! One step closer to finishing the final application. Until I saw this .... I forgot to include a copy of my photo ID. How did I not see this on the form?! I kept telling myself it was not on the application form. I would've seen it. How did I overlook that? Those people in Georgia are wrong. Oh, wait, it was on the form. So now I get to wait another eternity for my certified raised seal copy of my birth certificate. And it looks like they want to charge me an additonal $15.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Working the paper work : International Adoption

To adopt from India we have to go through 3 separate government entities.

1. The State of Alabama.
We are almost finished with our final application.  Once that's complete the agency will prepare our case for the social worker to begin the Home Study. The state requires this order of operation since with India, the state must approve it first because the adoption isn't finalized until we are home from India with our child. The term application sounds like such a simple word but it's actually comprised of many documents, lots of writing, and tons of notarizing. The final application contains the following documentation:

  • Statement of motivation, why we decided to adopt
  • Our child, the child we wish to adopt (age, sex, medical conditions we are willing to accept)
  • Autobiography (at least 6 pages in length. Mine was 8 pages long and took me 10 hours to complete)
  • Birth certificates, Marriage licenses, must be certified, raised seal documents. I had to send off for these from Georgia and Alabama
  • Financial statements itemizing all assets, income, debt
  • Bank letter, notarized
  • Proof of residence, certififed raised seal copy of property deed
  • Employment verification letters on company letter head, notartized
  • Medical exam reports for all family members, notarized
  • Proof of insurance for adopted child
  • Police clearance, notarized. This is not the FBI clearance/finger printing we were also required to complete and send off to DC (that takes 4-6 weeks to complete)
  • Various statements that have to be notarized : conviction statement (citing we have not been convicted of any crimes), child's complexion statement, medical care agreement, fee schedule, complaint resolution, adoption contract.
  • Passport sized photos of Scott and I
  • Six references

2. The Country of India
This is the dossier process which includes documents for CARA (Central Adoption Resource Agency). We can't begin this until after our second meeting with the social worker because many of the documents are time sensitive and we can't collect the data too soon or it may become dated as we wait for one thing or another. Many of the same documents are required that we collected for the final application. 
  • Registration form
  • Statement of motivation
  • Proof of identity: copy of drivers license, copy of passport, birth certificate (separate certified, raised seal document)
  • Marriage certificate (separate certified, raised seal document)
  • Family photograph (I think I can handle this c:)
  • Medical examination and health certificate, notarized. I'm not sure if the exam our doctor's completed for the final application can be used for the Dossier. I need to check on that. 
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Employment verification letters, notarized
  • Financial statements to include bank statements from the last 6 months, notarized
  • Police clearance, notarized
  • Three letters of recommendation, notarized
  • Children's consent, both Katie and Braden will have to write a statement of consent, notarized
  • INS (I171H) Pre Approval, we will receive this once our home study is complete and our finger prints have cleared. 

3. USCIS, aka Immigration
I-800A, this is a complicated document that our agency will help us complete for Immigration. 

Of course this is just the paper work part of the adoption process. We also have to attend adoption education classes, be prepared to make travel arrangements to India, cough up a ton of cash, among other things I'm sure I have forgotten off hand. Shew. Looks like fun, right?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Blank states and shocked faces : International Adoption

Scott and I have officially announced we are adopting from India. Most people look at me like I am absolutely insane when I tell them, blank stares and all. I don't care. Anyone who truly knows me, knows this has been something God placed on my heart as a child. Adopting a girl from India was Scott's choice. I didn't care where our 3rd child came from but I knew God would hand pick her for us when the right time came along. In filling out the final application and deciding which medical needs we are willing to consider, God had placed a burden on my heart for a child with a cleft lip and/or palate. I've mentioned it to Scott a few times in the past week and he said we needed to pray about it. I went to get my hair cut and colored on Wednesday and while I was waiting I saw an issue of National Geographic. I thought that seemed out of place considering salons are usually filled with trash, fashion and hair magazines. I picked it up and flipped to a page with a photo of a child with a cleft lip. I had to take a picture and send it to Scott telling him this was surely a sign from God, right? Then yesterday morning I found an old photography magazine from 2008 in our bathroom. I don't know where it came from but recalled seeing it a few days ago when I tossed it in the trash. I picked it up again and immediately flipped it open to a page with a photo of a child with a cleft lip. I am quite certain God is telling us he wants us to consider a child with a cleft lip. When we complete the section of our application entitled "Our Child" we have to list the medical/special needs we are willing to accept. The list is two pages long and having to choose what we feel is manageable and what we aren't sure we could handle is agonizing. How do I choose which disease, disability, or medical condition my child could possibly have?