Friday, January 22, 2010

Aaaaand...IT'S BACK!!!

Well, that was quick. One week ago our dossier traveled to Washington, D.C. for authentication at the U.S. Department of State and the Ethiopian Embassy. We were told this could take a ten days to two weeks. It took one week. We are now officially a Waiting Family. This means that we start at the bottom of our agency's waiting list and when we are the first people on the list whose criteria matches a child that arrives at one of the six orphanages our agency works with, that's our baby. As mentioned before, we have requested a baby girl zero to twelves months old, and we are open to a variety of special needs. We have no idea how long this part will take; it really depends on who shows up at the orphanages and the criteria of those above us on the list.

A few nights ago, I couldn't sleep, so I sat up making some plans for 2010. We will be as ready as possible whenever Miss Magnolia shows her beautiful face, but in my mind I am hoping for October 1 or after. This is largely related to financial goals that I have for us as a family. I know that a lot of moms who plan to go back to work after baby arrives find that it isn't workable for them after all, so while I do plan to continue with my childcare work, I also want us to be in a position that we can financially handle it if my income is drastically reduced, even if we have to take out the maximum amount we've planned for as an adoption loan.

While we are waiting, I will be working on the baby's room and picking up the things that I know we will need for the baby. Not only does this allow me to feel a little more financially secure (I panic a little bit when faced with the thought of submitting our last payment to our agency, plus making travel plans, plus making sure we have all the basic baby things we need), but it also helps me to plan for Magnolia's arrival as a thing that is actually happening someday and not just some fantasy built on a foundation of paperwork. I am very much looking forward to this time, as we decorate her room and put her things where they are meant to go. We are so very excited to be a waiting family. We pray that time will fly between now and the day we bring our daughter home.

Finally, I would like to say a word of thanks to all of you who have helped us come this far. You are very much a part of Magnolia's story and of our story as a family. Magnolia will surely feel an abundance of love and care as she comes home to the larger family of those who have helped us along the way. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are amazing and wonderful and beautiful, and we are lucky to have you along for the ride.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I've Heard It's Totally Worth It

After a day of worrying and worrying and asking other people to check my e-mail for me when I couldn't, we received word yesterday that everything in our dossier looks great, even the bit that endured a small bicycle/puddle accident, and it will be on its way to Washington D.C. today for authentication at the U.S. Department of State and the Ethiopian Embassy. This is the last step before we are put on the waiting list to receive a referral (for a baby! a real live very cute baby!) (people keep asking why Ethiopia, and we keep saying it's because the babies are the cutest) (which is not our real reason, but we are pretty certain that our baby will be the cutest baby you've ever seen in your life).

Between all the complaining and celebrating, complaining and celebrating, I don't think I've been very clear about what this process actually looks like, so I'll take a boring moment to list that out for you. Here is what it looks like for us. It might vary slightly depending on the agency you go through.

1. Decide to adopt.
2. Decide where you'd like to adopt from.
3. Research agencies that offer services to that country; send off for all sorts of info packets, some of which contain DVDs that you may or may not later make fun of at a party.
4. Choose an agency, and apply. (Write a check!)
5. Upon acceptance by agency, begin paper chase. (Write a check!)
6. Begin to gather together two sets of documents, one for your home study, one for the dossier.
7. Once home study documents are in order, go through the home study. For us, this included separate meetings for each of us with our social worker, a meeting together with the social worker, and a home visit by the social worker. (Write a check!)
8. Continue gathering documents for the dossier all the while, getting every single one notarized properly.
9. Once home study is written and approved, apply to USCIS using form I-600A. (Write a check!)
10. While waiting to receive notice of fingerprint appointments with USCIS, take the rest of your documents, which you finally have all together, to the Secretary of State's office to be state certified. (Take quarters for parking, even though it's a private lot just for the government building!)
11. Receive fingerprint appointment notice and be fingerprinted by USCIS to prove that you are not a criminal or a terrorist.
12. Maybe go back for another set of fingerprints if your first fingerprints couldn't be read. (Moisturize fingertips furiously between notification of rejection and new appointment.)
13. Receive I-171H in the mail.
14. Have it notarized.
15. Take it to be state certified.
16. Make copies of all the documents in the dossier for your files, then send the originals via FedEx to your agency. (Write the biggest check yet!)
17. Eat a cupcake to celebrate.
18. Fret about whether or not your documents will pass muster and be declared fine/good/great/acceptable.
19. Receive word that everything looks good.
20. Dossier is sent from agency to courier in Washington, D.C. The courier will hand deliver it to the U.S. Department of State and then the Ethiopian Embassy for authentication.
21. Dossier is returned to agency with all the necessary seals and stamps to make it official.
22. We are placed on the waiting list for a referral. From this point, it could be a year or it could be shorter, depending on who shows up at the six orphanages our agency works with. If a baby arrives at the orphanage with a special need, and we are the first people on the list that have approved that need, then that will be our daughter. If we rise to the top of the list before a special needs child comes in, then we will receive the next baby girl, special needs or not, that shows up. It's all fairly unpredictable, except for the part where we get a baby eventually.
23. The referral is presented to us, we review the information and go to the bank for a loan for the balance of what we haven't saved/fundraised/gotten via miracle.
24. We officially accept the referral. (Write an enormous check!)
25. We are assigned a court date.
26. Our power of attorney in Ethiopia appears in court on our behalf.
27. We pass court (which doesn't always happen on the first try), and Magnolia McBride is officially our baby.
28. We are assigned dates to travel to Ethiopia.
29. We travel to Ethiopia to bring home our daughter!

If you're thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of steps," you are right. But in the end? I've heard it's totally worth it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cupcake

Dear Magnolia,

On the night we got our last document, I walked up our snowy driveway thinking about it, and how it would maybe come in two weeks. I stumbled into the house with my hands too full, and my hands shook as I opened the envelope. And there it was, our very last piece of paper. We made arrangements to get it notarized immediately.

On the morning after we got our last document, I took it downtown to be state certified, and it was, even though I worried it wouldn't be, thanks to your dad and me both thinking it is still 2009. I called our adoption consultant, and she said that if we got everything to her by tomorrow morning, the whole thing could be sent to DC with the usual weekly shipment tomorrow afternoon. I set my bargain-hunting tendencies aside and paid triple the usual amount to get it there as soon as possible. It's worth it. You are worth it. I handed the FedEx envelope to the employee at Kinko's, and she asked if the contents were valued at over $100. I said, "Oh, yes, but you can put down $100 just the same." What are the past six months of my life worth? What is hoping and dreaming and longing worth? There is no way to insure pricelessness, so I didn't.

When it was all done, I did what I often do, what we will often do together, you and me, which is to go to Starbucks. I wanted to celebrate, so I got a cupcake. Someday, I thought, I will get a cupcake with you, and maybe you will get the frosting all over your hands and your face and your clothes, and I will smile at you and know that you are mine.

Even if you don't get the frosting everywhere it could possibly end up, I will know you are mine.

I can't wait to know you.

Love,
your mama

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Items in Our Store, Including Finding Magnolia Shirts!

It might not be the best time to be shopping, what with Christmas barely over, but have you considered what you're giving your valentine this year? Or if you might to make Magnolia your valentine by sporting one of her shirts? I've just added a ton of stuff to our online store, from Finding Magnolia tees to handmade goods from dear friends. Please take a look by clicking on our Storenvy button in the sidebar!

You will also notice another button below that; we have been working with the fabulous Kelly Ellison for help with adoption fundraising, and we are proud to be the newest Gotcha Gift Registry family. Kelly is an adoptive mother herself, to adorable Maya from China, so she understands the joys and difficulties of adoption. We are privileged to be working with her as we get closer to bringing Magnolia home.

Speaking of bringing Magnolia home, for those of you who wonder if there's anything new besides the t-shirts, the answer is no. Well, unless you count checking the mailbox obsessively in hopes of finding an I-171H inside. That's new, but not necessarily exciting. We will shout it from the rooftops once we get that last piece of paper, so prepare your ears. In addition to wearing your Finding Magnolia shirt, you might also want to be wearing earplugs.

Coming soon: Finding Magnolia tote bags and eventually some really cute handmade potholders!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Allow Me to Take This Moment

Maybe there was something about sending an update e-mail to our adoption consultant at the agency combined with getting an adoption joke e-mail from our social worker combined with reading timelines on other adoption blogs, but it occurred to me suddenly, with force, that our life is truly in the process of changing. Even those who waited longest for their referral didn't wait that long (though I'm sure it felt that long to them). Oh, I know we've been working on our paperwork forever, and I've been buying and scavenging and making over stuff for the baby for just as long, but it never seems quite real. It seems like a lot of lists and a lot of papers that may or may not be done properly and checks to be written and plans to be made for someday or something or...I don't even know. Everything has seemed so matter of fact up to now. I need this document done in this way with these stamps and signatures and such on it and that's that. I don't know why, really, it hit me tonight, but suddenly, looking at the timelines and the photos of actual children that are with their families because of the same process we are going through, it seemed real. And I know that I don't have any new news for your or anything to add that I haven't said before, but I want to mark this moment before it's gone.

What we're doing, this thing with all the papers and the confusion and the red folder that is the one non-living thing we'll grab should there be an emergency, will result in a baby who will live at our house.

And DUDE. WHOA. That's gonna be awesome.
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