Where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going…

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Where we’ve been:
We started this process in July. Since then, we’ve completed our home study, gathered all of our dossier documents, completed our Medical Conditions Checklist, finished Parent Training, submitted our Immigration paperwork, traveled to Detroit for our Immigration fingerprint appointment, and just TODAY…. received our Immigration approval. Phew!! That’s a lot in 4 months and looking back at all the work done, we’ve come a long way. Back in July, it was hard to imagine being here.

Where we are:

Now that we have our Immigration paperwork back, the work continues. We have to get most of our paperwork (employment verifications, financial forms, things like that) notarized, which is a process on it’s own because things have to notarized in a specific way, either as a copy or an original and it’s complicated, man. Then I have to have all of those notary seals approved by the county in which the notary is licensed. So far, I’m going to need to go to Lucas, Sandusky, and Cuyahoga, and possibly more, so that will be at least one full day of chasing signatures. Then, we have to go to the State Department and they have to approve everything, which means a trip to Columbus for more signatures.

Honestly, this is the part of the whole process that is the most stressful to me so far. When I first read the dossier instruction packet, it was super overwhelming, but once I read it a few more times, it started to make sense. But the first time I read the instruction packet for the sealing process, it was baffling, and I don’t feel like that has changed in my subsequent readings. So any prayers and good mojo you could throw at me as I’m figuring this out would not be wasted. My biggest worry is that I don’t want to make any mistakes because mistakes could mean we have to get something re-done and wait for that, and I don’t want this process to be any longer than it already is.

Then, once we’re done with all the sealing and approving, we will make copies of everything and send it by courier to the China Consulate for their approval. After that, we CELEBRATE and then send all of our paperwork to our agency for them to put through critical review and finalize the format and then we are DTC (documents to China). When that day comes, you will find me in a heap on the floor weeping from relief. They call DTC being “paper pregnant” and I figure all pregnant ladies (paper or otherwise) are allowed to weep on the floor occasionally, right?

Where we’re going:
Once our documents are in China, they’ll be reviewed again and then we’ll be logged in to their system and given a log in date (LID). And then we wait to be matched. There is a lot more that happens after that, but that’s another post for another day.

Today, with Immigration Approval in hand, it feels like a good day. It is a good day! We’ve made some progress and it feels like we’ve jumped a big hurdle. So we’re savoring today and preparing for tomorrow. We’re going to focus on Thanksgiving and enjoying being with friends and family, and then we’re going to start moving full speed ahead with signatures and approvals. Our goal is to have our paperwork completed and to our agency by the end of the year, and I really think we can meet that goal. We would be so thankful for your thoughts and prayers as we’re going forward from here, because this is where things get even more intense and details are crucial. We’re so grateful to you all for walking this journey with us and for keeping us sane!

We’ve already come a long way and we’ve got more to do, but we’re getting closer and the end is a slightly larger speck in the distance now. So, off we go… we’re going on an adventure!

What’s in a Name?

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One question that people ask us a lot is “are you going to change P4’s name?”. That’s a complicated question we’re not really sure how to answer yet!  But here are some of our thoughts.

The first thing that is important to understand is that more than likely, P4 will already be on his or her second name: the name he or she was given at birth, and then the name he or she is given when he or she entered the orphanage.  It’s unlikely that the orphanage will know their given name, so they’ll be given another one.  And, often the name they’re given in the orphanage is not the name they’re called in the orphanage; many kids are given nicknames and that’s what they answer to.

The other part of that scenario is that often, names given to kids in orphanages are names that are culturally associated with orphans and being abandoned, which carries weight with it.  For instance, all kids in one orphanage might be given the same last name, which would identify them as an orphan to anyone who heard their last name – rather then giving them a common last name, they were given a last name like “Guo”, which means something like “ward of the State”.

On the other hand, a name is a huge personal identifier and something that we embrace as part of our personal identity, so changing that, especially for the second time in a child’s life, is a really hard thing to consider.  We are already asking our child to give up everything they know – home, friends, nannies, culture, language, food, EVERYTHING – and asking them to also give up their name seems like too much.

But, then, on the other OTHER other hand, if their name is very difficult to pronounce or literally not pronounceable in English, what then?

So, that’s a portion of the things we’ve considered when making this decision about what to do about a name.  The place where we’ve landed is that we’re going to wait until we’re matched to make a decision, and it’s all going to depend on what P4’s name is.  For instance, if his name is Bin, we would possibly change it to Ben or if her name is Lin, we might change it to Lynn because that’s a pretty close English match.  If it’s not a very simple change like that, our tentative plan is to choose an English name that starts with the same letter sound, like, for instance, if his name was Tian, we’d go with Tyson, or Tyler or something like that. Then we will absolutely keep their Chinese name as a middle name.  We feel like doing that gives him or her the option to go back to, or just keep using, their Chinese name if that is what they’d prefer. It also gives them an English name if that is their preference.  I’ve read so many stories of adult adoptees who feel like having their name changed stripped them of their personal and cultural identity, so it’s really important to us that P4 have both a Chinese name and an English name so there is no choosing one culture over the other, but embracing both.

The long story short is that we aren’t making any hard and fast decisions right now, and probably will travel with a very loose idea of what our name plan is, but wait until we’ve met P4 and figured out what name he or she she actually identifies with before we make any lasting decisions.

This is a tricky decision because we want to make sure that we’re making choices that honor P4’s culture and roots, but also will send him or her into a new culture with fresh wings.  So, we’ll see where that takes us.  But at the end of the day, no matter what their first name becomes, they’ll also be getting a new last name with all the messy Pollard family glory that comes with it, and a new identity as son or daughter.  So we can figure out all the rest together.

 

Why China and not the US?

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First, of course, a disclaimer that this is our personal story, and our personal decision and not in any way meant to suggest that other people should do what we did or that international adoption is better than domestic or any other negative thing.  I have a friend who is currently pursuing domestic infant adoption and several friends who have adopted from foster care and their stories are glorious and wonderful and so clearly just right for them and their particular set of life circumstances.  We love adoption however it happens.

So, all that said… here’s our story.  As I’ve mentioned before, we started the adoption journey alongside our struggle with infertility.  The infertility process for us was pretty much the most difficult and devastating thing we’ve ever gone through, and we walked out of the process exhausted and very sad.  So we knew going into adoption that we really wanted it to be as much of a “sure thing” as possible.  In adoption, of course, there are no sure things, but we were determined to try.  Additionally, Eden had been expressing for a long time how much she wanted a sibling and we didn’t want to introduce her to a sibling unless we knew for sure that it was a done deal.

So, after contacting several local foster care agencies, we were consistently told that if we wanted a child under 8, we would need to be foster parents and open our home to children who may not stay.  While that is something we might be interested in in the future, for us, and for Eden at that time, we knew that the unpredictable nature of foster parenting wasn’t a good fit.  I’m sure in other areas of the country, the foster care/adoption system is different, but that was our experience in Lucas and Wood counties, with both county and private agencies.

The other factor that was really important to us was the our kids be closeish together in age.  By the time we started really pursuing adoption, Eden was 6, so we didn’t feel like infant adoption was a great fit.  Infant adoption is also somewhat unpredictable, so for the reasons above, we didn’t feel like that was a good fit.

So, there we were, with the two in-country options ruled out. We started looking at other options, specifically international adoption.  We quickly found that for the age of child we were hoping to adopt (1-3) and the permanency we were wanting, international adoption was the way to go.  In Chinese adoptions, our child will actually become a US citizen in China, and will be issued a US visa at that time.  So we chose international adoption because it gave us the best chance of having two kids close in age, and it gave us the smallest chance of having an adoption fall through.

There have been a few questions from people (including the memorable “why would you want a Chinese kid when there are perfectly good American kids…. aren’t those good enough for you?), and I certainly understand those questions.  There are kids here in the US who need families.  But for us and our unique circumstances, international adoption is the right fit.  For other people and their unique circumstances, it might be foster to adopt, or infant adoption.  But no matter what, we CELEBRATE there is one fewer child without a family to love them.  Each adoptive family has their own story with their own set of priorities, griefs, and hopes and their own ways to make a decision about what’s right for them.  We’re really excited to be on our particular journey, and equally excited for our friends who are on their own, different journeys.  Because no matter how you get there, it means that one more kid has a family.  And that’s worth celebrating.

 

Verklempt.

Linda Richman is a little Verklempt

I do not often find myself without words (anyone who knows me in person just laughed because… no, , no I do not.  I have lots of words, all the time), but I’m not sure how to find the right words to convey all the feelings I’ve had over the last 10 days.

So, we started this fundraiser having no idea, at all, how it was going to go.  Would people support it?  What if they didn’t?  I would really rather have a root canal then ask people for money, so this was hard.  It’s really vulnerable to put your story out there and ask people to help make your dreams happen.  But then orders started showing up, a friend here, Twitter follower there, and before you know it Josh and I are texting each other every day going “is this real?”  People shared our story all over Facebook and Twitter, some of you pretty much every day.  You all became our champions, pushing this crazy thing forward and cheering us on… I will never forget it.

You all have left me delightfully baffled by this grace and enthusiasm you have lavished on us this week.  We feel loved, supported, lifted up.  You have rallied for us this week and our words of thanks for woefully inadequate compared to the absolutely overwhelming sense of gratitude we feel.

Someday, P4 will be home with us, and I can’t wait to show him or her the page where people gave of their money and affection to bring him or her home.  I can’t wait to show him or her all the people who shared our story because they thought it was important.  I am thankful beyond words to have all of you standing behind us as our village.  Thanks for loving us, but more then that, thanks for loving P4, who is just a dream right now, but who will be a reality because you showed up, bought and shared.  THANK YOU, FRIENDS.  We love you so much.  Thanks for loving us so well.

Chrome Buffalo T-shirt Fundraiser Details!

Hi friends!  Here are the details on our t-shirt fundraiser.

This is the link:  http://chromebuffalo.com/a/cb?drive=477

Each shirt is $22 and we get $11 for our adoption fund.

Here is a picture of what the shirts look like:

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We also want to sweeten the pot a little bit, so we’re offering up the opportunity to have your name written on a Chinese scroll while we’re in China and we’ll bring it home for you.  For each t-shirt you buy, we’re going to enter your name into a drawing and we’ll randomly pick two winners once the fundraiser is done.  It’s not much, but we want to offer that chance at a small taste of China in thanks for your support!

This is an idea of what the calligraphy will look like.

This is an idea of what the calligraphy will look like.

We would also be so grateful if you wanted to share our fundraiser via social media or email with your family and friends… every shirt gets us one step closer to bringing P4 home!

Again, thank you a million times over for your support.  It means so much to us!

So, how much does this adoption thing cost? (ie: how you can help)

When we started this adoption adventure, one of the things that we were (and are) the most anxious about was how we were going to be able to afford to bring our child home. Our particular agency/country costs about $30,000, which includes our home study fee, our follow up home visits after our child is home (visits at 3, 6, and 12 months, and then 2 and 5 years) dossier prep, translation, binding, matching process, and our two week trip to China. That number was (is!) incredibly daunting because, like most of you, we don’t just have $30,000 burning a hole in our pockets. We have been able to pay for our home study, follow up visits (have to be paid up front), and our first agency fee and our Immigration fees on our own. The rest of the $30,000, we are hoping to raise through grants and fundraising, which is where you guys come in.

Right now, we are planning three fundraisers. The first is a t-shirt sale through a company called Chrome Buffalo. They will give us 50% of the cost of the shirts, so we’ll make $11 from each shirt sold. That fundraiser will start on the 1st of October. I tried to pick a shirt that a lot of people would like. This is a great option for people who are out of town and might want to help but probably don’t want to drive to the local events. Buy shirts for your whole family, so you can be matchy-matchy. 🙂

The next fundraiser will be an event at our church, either a breakfast or dinner, donation event. We don’t have a date for that one yet, but I’ll update when we have a confirmed date. This would be perfect for our local peeps!

The last one won’t be until next Spring/Summer, and will be an adoption garage sale. So if you have things in your house that you’ve been dying to get rid of, but the idea of having a garage sale yourself is just too much, you can pass them on to us and we’ll put them in our garage sale and sell them to help bring P4 home! We’re hoping for a lot of items and will make arrangements to come and get things from you as the time gets closer, but I wanted to put that out there so you might be thinking about items you might like to let us sell.

Other ways you can help: Please spread the word about our adoption process, this blog and our fundraisers! The more people who know our story, the better! Would your church or organization be willing to host a fundraiser for us? We can provide the labor if needed! Do you know of any other fundraising avenues that we haven’t mentioned? Please share them with me! And finally, if you’d like to help us, but would rather do it directly, we stuck a PayPal donate button over there on the side, even though it makes me squirmy.

To be honest, this is a really uncomfortable post for me to write. I don’t like asking for help, and I especially don’t like asking for financial help. But we are blessed beyond words by an amazing community of people who love and support us, so I’m sucking it up, and putting these words out there. Friends, we would be truly humbled and grateful beyond what I can adequately express in words if you wanted to help us bring P4 home. At the same time, we understand that not everyone is in a position to help financially, and we want you know that, even though this particular post has been money focused, your emotional support, interest, enthusiasm and genuine caring has meant so much to us and that is, sincerely, just as important to us as your financial support. So, okay… that’s the deal. We’ll keep you updated as things progress. I hope my next post is going to be way less serious!

Tom Petty had it right…

The waiting is, indeed, the hardest part.

I wish I had a better update for you all, but alas, things are not moving too quickly right now.  They might start moving tomorrow or the next day, maybe, but for today, we’re still waiting.  Our home study isn’t quite done yet, and that’s what we need to move forward.

The timeline is getting to me lately and the reality of how long and involved this process is has really sunk in.  When you first start out and they say “12-18 months” you think, well, that’s not so long.  And then you’ve been in it for a few months and suddenly 12-18 months away from your child seems like far too much.

That is, I think, the tricky thing about adoption.  P4 lives, right now, in an orphanage on the other side of the world.  He or she gets up in the morning, plays with other kids, eats meals, plays with toys, takes naps, falls down, takes steps, learns words, and just generally lives life, all without the family who already loves him or her, even though we’ve never met.  We’ve been spending a lot of time praying for kind nannies and that P4 is well loved and well cared for.  That’s a hard thing for a mama’s heart, because I would rather be the one doing the loving and caring and that’s just not possible right now, so we are hoping that someone is filling that space for us until we get there.

I find myself frequently doing the time translation and thinking “oh, he’s eating breakfast” as I’m going to bed, or “oh, maybe it’s nap time” when I wake up in the middle of the night, or “good night, sweet girl” as I’m waking up.  It’s a hard and weird way to live.  I am very much at the point now where I just want our child home, and I suspect that will only get worse from here.  The littlest hold ups drive me bonkers, especially when it’s my fault.  I forgot to fill out Eden’s medical form which resulted in an afternoon of mad scrambling to get it to her pediatricians office, and I know that’s totally normal, to forget things, but it feels really intense in the moment, awful even, because it feels like it’s directly impacting our timeline (it’s not, really).  I found out the other day that our home study has to go to our adoption agency before we can submit it to Immigration, which is yet another step I didn’t realize we had to take.  It’s probably only a few extra days (if that!), but it might as well be a lifetime to my “come on, let’s get this show on the road” brain.  It’s just been a hard few days, friends.  Reality is kind of biting right now.

So now we’re doing everything we can to be ready to take the next steps as soon as we have our home study in hand, and we wait.  The paperwork for Immigration is filled out and waiting for the word go.  I’m hoping that this post will serve as the universe’s invitation to prove everything I’ve written wrong and everything will start moving at lightening speed.  A girl can hope right?

Some things I’ve learned so far: the “China adoption facts” edition

When we first started this process, I felt like I knew quite a bit about international adoption in general, but very little about China specifically.  A lot of the reading I’d done on adoption centered around Haiti and Ethiopia, so I knew a lot about the underlying causes of the orphan situation there, but not as much about China.  Maybe you’re in the same boat, or just want to know more, so if so… read on!

  • The one that always surprises people the most is that there are more boys then girls in the Special Needs Program. If you are open to adopting a boy, you very frequently get matched before your even submit a dossier, and will get matched very quickly after. The ratio is about 60/40 boys to girls.
  • The reasons for abandonment in China are both simple and complicated. First, you have the cultural preference for boys over girls. Second, you have the one child policy, although it has been relaxed recently in most parts of China. Third, you have a cultural stigma regarding people with disabilities. And lastly, you have a health care system that requires all money up front.  So, let’s go through an example. A Chinese couple finds out they are expecting a wanted and loved baby. The baby is born with cleft lip and palate and is a girl. They don’t make enough money to pay for the surgery to fix her cleft lip and palate, and don’t have access to the kind of bottles you use to feed a baby with cleft, so their daughter quickly becomes malnourished. There are aid organizations that perform the initial surgeries to repairs the clefts, but any additional surgeries would be out of pocket. They don’t know how to access those organizations and their daughter is getting sicker.  Then throw in the cultural stigmas for both girls and special needs, and you can start to see the heart breaking challenges presented. If they abandon their daughter, she will get the care she needs and potentially be adopted. They can go on to have another child. It’s a devastating reality for many of these kids in the Special Needs program.
  • I keep using the word “abandon” and I’m not using it lightly, or as a synonym for “placing for adoption” which is the common terminology for most US adoptions. In China, it is illegal to place a child for adoption, so children are truly abandoned, usually in a public place where they will be found quickly and taken to an orphanage or in “baby hatches” where they are put into a small room and the parent rings a bell and hurries away, and the child is retrieved a few minutes later. The paperwork we get will likely include P4’s “finding spot”, whether it be a public place or a baby hatch. This also means that we’ll have no medical or family history for P4, something that breaks my heart any time I think about it.

So, that’s some pretty depressing news, huh?  Let’s see if I can offer a little bit of hope, here.

  • Our agency, CCAI, pioneered what they refer to as Lily Orphan Care Centers, which are designed to put children in the best possible environment even though they are in an orphanage. You can read more about it here: http://www.ccaifamily.org/OrphanCare/Lily-OrphanCare.aspx and http://www.ccaifamily.org/OrphanCare/Henan-Project.aspx
  • For non-Special Needs Adoption, adoption by Chinese families has significantly increased in recent years, which is amazing news. If possible, it would be best for a child to be raised in their birth culture, and we’re encouraged that that seems to be happening.
  • Many children are also starting to be part of foster programs, where they are raised by foster parents among a smaller group of children. This is also great news because foster care almost always is a much better option then orphanage care.

So, there are some China adoption (true as far as I know) facts.  I don’t claim to be an expert, by any means, but that’s at least a start to the new things we’ve learned since starting this adventure.

Have questions or want more information?  Leave a comment or shoot me an email and I’ll see what I can find out!

A ridiculous number of words about how this process works.

Several people have asked us about what the adoption process looks like, and I thought I’d do a quick (ha! not really. very long. saddle up.) blog post to kind of at least give an overview of what this process has looked like for us.

We made the decision to adopt sometime in January and started researching countries and agencies. For us, China made the most sense because it’s a well established program, and the wait in relatively short. It also requires a comparatively short travel time. Once we picked China, we started researching agencies. We ended up choosing CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International). They are an agency that has been working in China from the beginning of it’s international adoption program, and have facilitated 11.000+ adoptions, so we feel like we’re in good hands.

Application:
The first step once we decided on an agency was applying. The application is a very basic overview of our lives, and it also certifies that we meet China’s conditions to adopt, which include age, BMI, income of at least $10,000 per family member, and a significant “net worth” requirement. We also simultaneously applied to our home study agency, Options for Families and Youth in the Cleveland area. We were accepted by both agencies and we got started!

Home Study:
A home study is a set of face to face interviews with a social worker to determine whether you’ll be a suitable parents to the child you adopt. Most people, us included, find it terribly intimidating and spend obscene amounts of time cleaning all the things and setting out ridiculous snacks because you want the social worker to think you’re awesome. Every article I read kept saying that it wasn’t a big deal, to just relax and HA!, have we met? I did not relax. But I’m here to say… it was no big deal. Our social worker, Ginger, is the absolute best. We liked her right from the start. She was kind and funny, and walked us through the whole process. She is a gift and we are so grateful to her. We did one longer visit at our house, just Josh and I, and then we went to her office for fingerprints and a training required by Ohio law. She also did one more visit to our house (I cleaned a lot less for this one!) and interviewed Eden. She did a quick walk through of the house to make sure that we didn’t have any torture chambers or, you know, doors that a child could lock themselves in with, and it was super easy. Along with the home study, we did background checks, a fire inspection (we own a fire extinguisher now… exciting stuff!), and some personal narrative work as well. And best of all, when she asked if I spoke any languages besides English fluently, and I replied “sarcasm” she laughed because she is the awesome. The other piece of that is asking people to write letters of recommendation. We can’t say thank you enough to Phil and Kristina, Dave and Karen, Danielle, Melissa and Michelle. It’s a scary thing to ask someone to tell a social worker their honest opinion of your parenting and we are so grateful that they said “yes” when we asked them, and that, we assume, they said nice things.

Medical Conditions Checklist (MCC):
The MCC is what gets the clock ticking for when you’re matched with your child. It’s pretty much what it sounds like; our adoption agency has an extensive list of conditions and you go through and check which ones you would accept and which ones you would not. It is an incredibly bizarre experience to sit on the couch with your spouse and say “yes, I could deal with this, but no, I couldn’t deal with that.” It was one of the more humbling experience of this journey so far for me, because behind each condition you say yes or no to, there are actual kids waiting for their families to find them. In the end, we said yes to lots of conditions, such as cleft lip/palate, heart defects, limb differences, skin conditions, some feeding and digestive challenges, and a lot more. As I said above, submitting this starts your clock to match, so we pushed hard to get this done. Once we are “Documents to China” (DTC), this is what they will use to match us, and our openness to conditions will shorten or lengthen our wait. People open to boys with Down Syndrome, or significant heart issues, or older children etc will be matched sometimes before they even complete their dossier. People who are requesting a girl under 3 with very minor health concerns might wait 24 months+. So, the MCC is really important. Our clock started running on July 17th, 2014, so we’ll see when it stops!

Dossier:
Oh, the dossier. Say this word to any adoptive parent and their eyes immediately glaze over in exhaustion. A dossier is a look at our lives on paper and includes birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, the home study, immigration approval, a petition to adopt, physical exams, blood work, and a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting. Once it’s completed, most of it has to be notarized and then the notary seals have to be authenticated in the county where the notary has their license. THEN, it goes to the Ohio Secretary of State to be certified again and THEN it goes to the China Counsolate in New York (by courier! because you can’t just mail it!), and THEN it goes to our agency for critical review, and THEN it’s bound and sent on it’s way to China. Head spinning yet?! Now that I’ve had some time to wrap my head around this part of the process, I’m good, but when I read through all of that for the first time, it was pretty intense. I will be so happy when that part of this process is over and our documents are in China!

Documents to China/Log in Date (DTC/LID):
Once our dossier gets to China, we are logged into their system, and that is when doors really start to open up. Once that happens, we are able to be matched with any child in the system. If we are following a “typical” timeline, we may be waiting for a while after LID, but our MCC is fairly open, so who knows? This is both a relief and a whole new kind of stress because now every phone call and every email could be “THE ONE”.

Special Needs (SN) vs. Special Focus (SF):
We are adopting through the special needs program, which encompasses the “traditional” special needs program and also the special focus program. Basically, special needs are considered mild to moderate and correctable in the US. The special focus program are kids who have multiple special needs, are older, or who have more severe conditions that may be on going once they’re home. The other difference is that for SF, we can request their file without having our dossier logged in. For SN kids, we have to be logged in.

Still with me?! Phew! That’s at least an overview of what we’re doing right now, and where we’re going. It’s a long process, but so worth it, and our agency is amazing and has a fantastic guide that is walking us through the process so we feel confident we know what we’re doing. We are currently waiting on our home study and then we’ll be working on immigration. Progress is happening, and we’ll keep moving forward!

So, Pollard’s…. why are you adopting, anyway?

It only seems to make sense that we should start this blog by answering the question that a lot of people are wondering… how exactly did you end up deciding to adopt from China?? So, here’s our journey in a nutshell.

Josh and I have been talking about adoption for most of our marriage, and both of us agreed it was something we’d maybe look into… someday. So, when we started our family we had Eden and figured we’d have another child in a few years. But when we started trying for another baby, we waited… and waited… and waited. After about a year, we consulted with a doctor and about a year after that, were referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist, and really started on the fertility treatment roller coaster. We rode that for about a year and then were told that given our history, and progress to that point, our only option was IVF. We pretty quickly decided that IVF was not a good option for us and figured that we would try to put away our dream of being parents again and be satisfied with Eden, who was and is the light of our lives.

But the dream and wish just wouldn’t go away. 3 months after we stopped fertility treatments, I was finally able to articulate how I’d been feeling… like we were missing a member of our family, and that they were out there somewhere, we just had to find them. At the same time, I started seeing a really awesome counselor who was the mom of two boys adopted from Ethiopia. We had always thought that international adoption was totally out of the question based on the cost, but with her encouragement, I started doing my research and it became pretty clear that it was, theoretically, doable.

We settled pretty quickly on China for a few reasons. First, it’s a very long established program and it is a consistent process without a lot of guesswork. That was really important to us. Second, the level of care that Chinese orphans receive is better that what you see in many other countries, with some kids even placed in foster care. Third, comparatively speaking, it was a quick process, taking anywhere from 12-24 months, much shorter than most other countries. Since Eden is already 6, we are hoping for a relatively short process so we can have closer spacing for our kids. Fourth, the travel requirement is much more doable, with one 2 week trip required.

So, armed with that knowledge, we started looking for an agency and started working with Options for Families and Youth and our amazing social worker, Ginger, to do our home study and Chinese Children Adoption International (www.ccaifamily.org) for the rest of our placement. We are SO HAPPY with our choices and can’t say enough great things about them.

We are SO EXCITED to bring home our missing piece and to complete our family. We are so grateful for the support and enthusiasm of our family and friends in this whole process. It means a lot to us to have people in our corner cheering us on. We’ll keep you updated as things happen! Next up is applying to immigration, and we’re hoping to have all of our stuff done and submitted by the first on the year. We are also going to work on fundraising, because our adoption costs total about $30,000, which is a lot of money. We are planning to do a t-shirt sale, and a fundraiser with our church, and possibly a yard sale later on. We’re also looking into grants to offset some of the cost.

We’d appreciate your prayers and good mojo for everything to go smoothly and for us to stay motivated. This process is overwhelming, but we need to keep plowing through it so we can get P4 (our nickname for our new addition) home as soon as possible. We can’t wait to meet him or her!