Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Paperwork Update

Well, we felt like we should update everyone on our paper pregnancy. After initially being so overwhelmed with all the stuff to do for the home study, I took a day off just not to think about it and then went back to work. I discovered that much of the home study paperwork was merely signing one document after another. So Dottie and I sat down one evening and just started signing. Before long we had checked off over half of the paper work to be done. That gives you one great feeling. In addition we have gotten both of our children's physicals done (Dottie and I just keep putting ours off). All in all, things are moving along quite well.

We are also working on the paperwork for the dossier. Before we began the process we had heard a lot of talk about the dossier but I really think the home study paperwork is much more complicated. The dossier is mostly sending off for your various certificates (birth, divorce, death, etc.). Perhaps the only thing that really makes it more difficult than the home study is the fact that virtually every single piece of paper has to be notarized.

Finally, we sent off today our I-600A Application to the USCIS office in Charlotte. We have heard that it can be quite a wait to get an appointment for your fingerprints and that it is best to send this application off as soon as possible. We won't get our approval until the home study is complete but by sending in the application now we get put into the system for awaiting fingerprinting.

Anyhow, I am sure this hasn't been the most exciting post you have read...well, that is the nature of a paper pregnancy. Maybe paperwork is the equivalent of morning sickness - it may not be much fun but it's a sure sign something is happening.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dossier Documents

Last week we received the packet that outlined all that we needed to be prepared for our home study. Today we received another gift package. This one detailed all that we would need for our dossier. For those unfamiliar with the international adoption process the dossier is the paperwork that will actually be sent to Ethiopia for approval. A lot of what you need for the dossier is what you need for your home study with a couple of very important extra details. For instance, the home study requires a birth certificate which I and Dottie both have. The dossier requires a birth certificate but it has to be certified from the state AND they must be sent to Ethiopia within 12 months of being issued. Well, my birth certificate is certified by the state but it was issued in 1973. Dottie's birth certificate is a little better - it was issued in 1988. Perhaps by the end of this adventure I'll learn to like paperwork - on second thought...

By the way just as we listed the stuff needed for the home study here is the stuff we need for the dossier:

1. Application Letter (Notarized)
2. Birth Certificates (State Certified and in Ethiopia within 12 months of being issued)
3. Marriage Certificate (Same requirements as Birth Certificate)
4. Death Certificate (also same as birth certificate requirements)
5. Divorce Certificate (again same requirements)
6. Physical Exam Forms (Notarized)
7. Proof of Medical Insurance (Notarized)
8. Proof of Life Insurance (Notarized)
9. Financial Information Worksheet (Notarized)
10. Employment Verification Letter (Notarized)
11. Home Study Report (Notarized)
12. 3 Letters of Reference (Notarized)
13. Criminal Background Checks (Notarized)
14. I-171H Approval Form (A Notarized Photocopy)
15. Power of Attorney (Notarized)
16. Agency Recommendation Form (Notarized)
17. Agency Post Placement Agreement (Notarized)
18. 2 Passport Photos of Each Parent (these don't have to be notarized!)
19. Photocopies of passports
20. Photos (2 photos of immediate family, 4 photos of family life - whatever that means, 1 photo of front of the house, 1 of the back of the house, and 1 photo of each of the main rooms - I bet that means will need to clean up first)

That's all folks! I wonder if this blog was supposed to be notarized?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Special Delivery!

We have made a special effort to discuss the adoption with Hannah and Joshua from the very beginning. Hannah understands the impact of having two new children in the home and she understands more of the details of how the adoption process works. Joshua on the other hand basically just knows that he might be getting a brother to play with. Never the less, we continue to discuss the adoption with Joshua to better prepare him for the transition that we will all be going through. My wife informed me that while talking with Joshua yesterday she discovered that he didn't quite understand what we meant by saying that we would be "getting" his new brothers or sisters. It seems that Joshua thought that we would be "getting" his new siblings via US mail. That's right, he thought they would be coming wrapped in a box and delivered to the house. I guess we need to explain this a little more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Paperwork Begins!

Well, today we began to work on the paperwork. Yesterday when we received the package I was simply overwhelmed and never even finished reading everything. So today I decided just to start and tackle one piece of paper at a time and hope that by the time I was done that I would feel that something was accomplished. I dare say that there is still a lot to do but a lot has been done even in just a day. If you haven't started your paperwork, one thing that has given us a true sense of accomplishment is that we had ordered or found items such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, etc. Today, was just a matter of putting it all in order. Our next biggest task facing us is scheduling physicals for everyone. We are praying that the kids will get in to see the doctor before Oct. 1. They get new insurance then and their co-pay will cost us $60.00 compared to the $0.00 co-pay now. We also heard from our social worker today and have our first home study meeting scheduled for Oct. 13 (I have until then to hide the wires hanging out of the wall - just kidding, Rebecca).

All in all, today is better than yesterday. I don't quite feel so buried in paperwork. We may actually get this done.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The homestudy begins!

We got all of our information for our homestudy. We will soon be working with our social worker. She will come out to visit 3 times and we need to collect the following forms/fees for her:
  1. North Carolina Homestudy Agreement
  2. Home Study fee
  3. Post Placement Report Fees
  4. Autobiographies (1 from each of us)
  5. Birth certificates for our entire family
  6. Marriage certificates
  7. Divorce decrees
  8. Copy of driver's licenses
  9. Copy of social security cards
  10. Copies of our verification of employment
  11. Previous years W-2s
  12. Current income tax return
  13. Signed guardianship statement
  14. Copy of financial statement
  15. International disclaimer (What's that?!)
  16. Education history of both of us
  17. Our work histories
  18. Medical history form for everyone in the family
  19. Medical reports for everyone in the family
  20. Resident County Criminal Record Check
  21. Hillsborough County Criminal History check (since we have not been here 3 years)
  22. Sworn disclosure statements
  23. Credit reports
  24. America World reading agreement
  25. 2 relative references (Get ready parents)
  26. Responsible individuals list
  27. Homestudy Agency Post-placement agreement

Who knew that in the process of adopting 2 children, we would be destroying a small portion of trees in the rainforest!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tax Credits and Siblings...

Today we heard from our adoption agency twice. First they called us to say that they had received our contract and initial payment. They also wanted to let us know that a policy change had taken place. Fear struck me at this point, thinking they were about to say that we were no longer eligible to adopt. Fortunately, the policy change was not quite that dramatic. We had told the agency that we wanted to adopt two children and that we did not care if they were siblings or unrelated. The new policy (and we are not sure if it is AWAA's policy or Ethiopia's) is that when adopting more than one child they have to be siblings. Our response to this news - OK. We just know that we want two children. We aren't really concerned if they are biologically related or not. If the policy is that they will be biologically related, well that's fine. Fact is that when they are adopted they will be related and they will have 2 other siblings as well.

Later we received an e-mail from AWAA that alerted us to some very nice news. The state of North Carolina just voted to extend a tax credit for adoptions. Yea! Finally tax legislation that I am in favor of. Every now and then the politicians can surprise us.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Life Outside of Adoption

It is amazing when going through the adoption process that your life can be overwhelmed with paperwork, studying about adoption, cultural and racial considerations, and of course, working your way through the hours of waiting for stuff to get done. It can be so overwhelming that people (particularly loyal blog readers) can begin to believe that nothing else occurs in your life other than adoption. I am proud to announce that there is more to our lives. For instance, I am about to celebrate my first anniversary as pastor of Deep Springs Baptist (hopefully some members of the congregation also feel this is a celebration). This week our kids started back to school. On the first day Hannah came home and said it was boring. Joshua came home and said he made new friends but he doesn't know their names. Dottie came home from her first day back teaching and said, "I'm tired and my feet hurt." I just enjoyed the peace and quiet in the house.

Last Saturday, Hannah rode in her first horse show. Hannah has been taking riding lessons for about 9 months now and loves it. She did nearly faint at one time. It was a bit of the heat and a lot of nerves but she made it through the day. Shortly after her near fainting incident she got on her horse and her mother asked her how she was feeling. Hannah replied, "I always feel better when I am on a horse."
That's just a little peek into our lives outside of the adoption process. Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go and once again tell Joshua why he is not allowed to play video games that are rated "T" for teens.