Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another Fabulous Thursday Night

Around here, Thursdays are Official Adoption Work Days. While we didn't get much done during the day today, we both got to work in the evening. Jarod sat on the sofa, watching a movie while writing his autobiography, while I painted the ceiling of our bedroom.

another rockin' thursday night

Once we get all the home study paperwork together, someone will be coming to our home to see if it's suitable, and far be it from us to leave our bedroom looking like that. They might turn around and walk right back out upon seeing that monstrosity. This is the project that never ends--I initially thought I could scrape off all the old wallpaper and paint, but it turns out it's not just wallpaper under there. Someone thought it would be awesome to throw in some textured plaster in random places. In addition, the original wallpaper from 1946 is stuck tight. So today we went to Lowe's and got some paintable wallpaper for "problem walls," and tonight I painted the ceiling. You'll notice I didn't bother to properly protect any of our furniture, and in fact, just pulled back the quilt on the bed so I wouldn't get any white paint splatters on it accidentally. As for the sheets, well, they're white and the paint is white and thin enough that it should wash out with a good soak tomorrow if there even is any on there. (Please note my entry into the run-on sentence contest there.) So far I haven't noticed any, but the paint fumes dried out my contacts a little bit, so how would I know? It feels good to have one more thing checked off the list.

Tomorrow: my autobiography and the financial statement. We are all kinds of exciting around here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paperwork, Paperwork, Always More Paperwork

Just when I was about to post and say that I really don't feel like we're knee deep in paperwork, I got an e-mail from our caseworker that included a new list of home study documents I need. So for the moment, yes, I do feel like I am knee deep in paperwork. Maybe neck deep; it always feels overwhelming to get a new set of instructions when there's not much I can do about it from where I sit right now. I'm sure a trip to Kinko's and scheduling a vet appointment will alleviate that feeling to a small degree, and just getting each document one by one will gradually lessen the pressure.

I was talking to a friend lately about someone she knows who is going through IVF, and while infertility is not our reason for adopting, I cannot imagine that IVF would be any simpler than this. It is certainly more painful. What am I going to get by doing this, a papercut? Skinned knee tripping up parking garage steps? The process is long and it seems like little things always need to be tweaked to get the documents right, but I feel blessed and lucky that this is what we are doing as opposed to something much more medically and physically intense.

I find that I have a lot of small questions on a regular basis, and I sometimes wish I knew someone well who had gone through this already. I know that once we get it all figured out, I will be more than happy to help anyone who wants to pursue this get all their tiny little ducks in a row.

I did have one slightly negative experience lately involving my doctor's office, and was a little panicked that I was going to have to go in and put the smack down and demand my documents done right and done right in front of me (and my notary, as that was partly the problem--no one in the office seemed to believe me that to have something notarized, you have to sign it in front of a notary), but it turns out that I have a valid reason for going to see the doctor (shingles vaccination--YESSSSS!!!!), so now I can just take my notary along with me and say, "If you don't mind, doctor, before we're done here I'd like you to just sign this paper, which is similar to what you signed before, except laid out correctly and on the letterhead I scanned in from another document you sent me. I don't know if you noticed, but I have a notary sitting next to me. Would you mind producing some photo ID? Here's a pen."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Note About Transracial Adoption

I've spent most of the day in my pajamas, typing up and printing documents for our dossier, as well as reading things both in books and on the internet that relate to transracial adoption. There are plenty of proponents and as well as naysayers, plenty who would magnify the difficulties and plenty that would just sweep them under the rug. But I feel that it's a point that should be talked about, that we intend to talk about with our daughter as she becomes more aware of what it means to be black in America. It would be nice if it didn't matter, if the pat statements from relatives about it not mattering what color the child is would be true, but despite the fact that we as a nation elected a black man to the highest office in the land, we still have a long way to go. It does matter what color our daughter is. People will see the color of her skin before she ever opens her mouth, and plenty of them will make assumptions without seeing or hearing anything else. It's unfortunate, but true.

One of the things I really appreciate about our adoption agency is not only their recognition that these things are true, but also that they are committed to preparing us as parents for this. In addition to the resources and recommended reading on the website, we also have homework in which we answer questions about race, some of which I never would have thought to ask myself. It has been both eye-opening and challenging. Because we are adopting from Ethiopia, our world will be opened up in ways that we never anticipated. I think this is a good thing; by endeavoring to be the best parents we can be to Magnolia, we will become better people. At least, I hope we will.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chasing Paper

With the acceptance and subsequent signing of the adoption agreement, we entered the phase of adoption known as the paper chase or paper pregnancy. We've got a list of documents to either write ourselves or to track down from others, and while at first the list seems daunting, when I break it down, it doesn't seem like such a huge deal. We are lucky to live in the state where all but one of our documents will need to be obtained and authenticated, and that the final document we need is from a state that offers a service in which the necessary document is printed, certified, and walked to the office where it will be authenticated.

During the paper chase, we also will be going through our home study, itself with its own list of documents and requirements. We have a list of things that need to be done as we enter this process, some of which are not so difficult to complete on our own, and some of which we'll need help to complete. What I mean by this is that if you have a hankering to do some heavy yard work prior to the home visit, we won't turn you down if you show up in our yard to do it.

A lot of people have been asking us about how long this process will take, and our goal for this initial paper chasing phase is to have our part done by the time we leave for vacation on September 25. After that, it is largely out of our hands, but there are a couple of scenarios that could play out. The first is that we are put on the regular waiting list for a healthy baby girl; the wait at this time is six to thirteen months. However, we are also open to special needs*, so if we identify a child whose needs we feel we can meet before we receive a referral through the waiting list, then the time could be shorter. So the short answer is that it will take twelve to eighteen months total, with the disclaimer that adoption can be unpredictable, so it could be shorter or longer than that.

In other words, we don't really know.

What we do know is that between us and our daughter is a small mountain of paperwork, some elbow grease, and some creative financing. We are now looking into our funding options in earnest, as we will go through the funds we saved even more quickly than I anticipated**. We have applied already for one grant and will likely apply for more, are looking into various loan options, and will begin brainstorming fundraising ideas that will be good, clean fun for everyone involved. If you'd like to be involved in any way in helping us find the funds to bring our daughter home (ideas welcome!), please drop me a line at marymuses at gmail dot com.***

*While we don't have a list, we have an idea of the types of needs we feel comfortable and capable handling. At this time, this includes various physical deformities, vision or hearing impairment, and treatable illnesses. We've thought long and hard about this, believing that every child deserves a loving family and at the same time recognizing our own limitations and those of our larger community of family and friends.

**I wouldn't necessarily call what we're encountering hidden fees, but there are fees that are not often included on agency lists, some of which because they're small and some of which because they are unique to each family. This includes fees to obtain various documents ($10 here, $15 there, $22 somewhere else), adoption training fees (for Hague accredited agencies, ten hours of adoption training is required), and what I like to call Life Update Fees for things like cat vaccinations and physicals.

***Of course we will accept financial help with open hands and grateful hearts, but what I mean here more than anything is if anyone has information about grants or loans we may be unaware of, we'd love to know about those. Even if you think we've heard of it, maybe we haven't, so please let me know.
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