Sunday, December 30, 2012

FAQs

This blog entry is dedicated to answering the questions that I hear the most. Here we go...

Q: Do you have a particular child picked out? 

A: No. Ukraine is a "blind referral" country, which means that adoptive parents cannot select a child prior to arriving in the country. Sometimes it is possible to get information on a child before traveling (e.g., temporarily hosting a Ukrainian orphan in your home, obtaining information from an another adoptive family or missionary, etc.), however we have decided to not go that route as there's no way to officially "reserve" a child. Because Ukrainians always have adoptive preference over Americans, we'd hate to fall in love with a child's photo and get there to find out he/she is no longer available.

Q: What is the process for getting your referral? 

A: The SDA (State Department of Adoptions) will issue us an appointment date. We then travel to the capitol of Ukraine, Kiev, to meet with the SDA at their appointed date and time. During this meeting, we will be shown files of available children matching our desired characteristics (e.g., age range, sex, etc.) provided in our adoption petition and homestudy. Included in the files are generally a picture of the child, their medical history, and information regarding their orphan status and background. Once we've reviewed the files and selected a child we wish to meet, the SDA will grant us permission to visit the child's orphanage and meet the child. We then travel to the city where the child resides. If, after meeting the child, we decide to adopt him/her, then we will complete the paperwork to adopt and wait for a court date. We are allowed to meet up to three children on one trip, but we hope that the first one is "the one!"

Q: What happens while you wait for a court date?

A:  We get to visit our child in the orphanage :) and explore Ukraine.  Mark also plans to work remotely for several hours each day.  

Q: What happens after court? 

A: After court there's a mandatory 10-day waiting period. After the 10 days, we apply for our child's birth certificate, passport, and pick him/her up from the orphanage. Then we travel back to Kiev for the child's medical exam (a U.S. requirement) and apply for their visa at the U.S. Embassy. Once the visa has been issued, we can travel home! Upon entering the U.S. our child automatically becomes a U.S. Citizen.

Q: How long will you be in Ukraine? 

A: The amount of time in-country will vary depending on where our child is located, how quickly we get a court date, etc. We estimate that our one trip will be about 4-6 weeks from start to finish.

Q: How old will your child be?

A: We're not sure. We've been approved for ages 1-8 but we're imagining our special one will be somewhere in the middle of that range. We'll see! We may not know yet but God does!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Travel Update

A few people have asked me if the Russian ban on U.S. adoptions will impact our adoption. The answer is no, because we are adopting from Ukraine, not Russia. We originally planned on Russia, but felt led to change direction and go with Ukraine. How clear it is now and how gracious the Lord was to show us that! My heart does, however, break for the hundreds of thousands of Russian children who are left with very little hope and without a family to love them. Every child deserves a chance. 

Also, we found out today that no travel dates are being given out between now and January 20th. Our agency suspects, however, that we will be given very short notice to travel on or shortly after the 20th. This puts us right where we thought--traveling at the end of January or beginning of February. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fundraising Update

We are so close to traveling I can't even believe it! So exciting!

I'm happy to report that we raised the $10,000 that we will pay at the time of our referral. Yahoo! THANK YOU to those who helped us, we couldn't have done it without you!

As great as it is to have that deadline covered, we have various in-country costs that we still need help with. To give you an idea of where the money will go, here's a list of some of the costs:
  • Airfare--2 on the way there, and 3 on the way back :)
  • Apartment for approximately 4 weeks
  • Daily driver 
  • Translator
  • Food 
  • Orphanage donation 
  • Child's Immigration Visa 
  • Child's Medical Exam 
  • Child's Passport
  • Misc. documentation and fees
In an attempt to get some of these costs covered, we've planned one last fundraising event before we go.  We're having an event at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) in Riverside Plaza on Thursday, January 10.  On that day, bring in a copy of the flyer below and CPK will donate 20% of your order into our adoption fund! This counts for dine-in, take-out, catering, and all beverages!

Good food + a good cause = a win-win! Please share this flyer with all your friends and family--let's fill the place up! 
Please don't forget to bring the printed flyer with you. It's required in order for us to get credit. If you'd like the flyer emailed, let me know.

Hope to see you there! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Packing List

After hearing that a couple of adoptive families recently got a 4 DAY travel notice, I decided that I should take a look at our packing list more seriously and start gathering the stuff we need. Here's a few of the highlights from the list:
  • A roll of toilet paper...some airlines and most public places in Ukraine do not provide toilet paper or are not quick to replenish the toilet paper when it's gone. 
  • A flashlight...it's not uncommon to have the power go out at the airport in Kyiv. The power tends to go out all over Ukraine often so we'll be prepared.
  • Only three days of casual clothes and one professional outfit. For 4-6 weeks. 
The weather may be in the negatives, and we may be toilet paper-less and sitting in the dark, but I CAN'T WAIT! Let the adventure begin. We're ready for you, baby!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Winter Coats

We're all set for our Ukrainian winter...


Well, Mark's coat may be a little too big....
Do you think the fact that 100 of him could fit in it means (a) it's the wrong size (b) he can eat all he wants over the holidays or (c) he may actually need all that layer room to stay warm during an Ukrainian winter?

Actually, the wrong size was shipped so a new one should arrive soon. I'm betting the correct size won't be as funny though.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Project 1:27 COMPLETE!

We had our Project 1:27 event today and it was so much fun! What a blessing it was being surrounded by family and friends sharing their time and talents. A big thank you to Sandy, Trish, Debra and Skip, Traci and Lane, Erin and Cody, the Reed family, Jill, James, my dad, and my grandpa for helping out, and to Karen for allowing us to do the project at her home! If it weren't for you guys, we'd be painting and working alone through the new year, so thank you! :)

Last night we went to Home Depot to purchase the needed supplies. Home Depot graciously donated $75 towards the project! Scarlett wanted to help, so she came along: 
Fast forward to today's work day. 
Here's the group priming the wood fence: 
Along with Debra washing the windows (she was a serious expert!):

After the primer was dry, we painted the fence gray to match the house. 
Ta-da! Here's the finished product: 
Next we worked on the dirt side yard. Here it is being leveled and raked:
 Pathway stones starting to go down:
Adding sand between each stone:
My grandpa laying down a weed cloth and covering up the dirt with a mulch mix:
Side yard DONE!
Here's my cute hubby cleaning the carpet:
Her air conditioner was also serviced by James Santo. If anyone needs theirs done let me know and I'll give you his contact information! 

A shot with some of the volunteers:
Mark and I with Karen: 

Thanks again to all the volunteers and sponsors who made this day a success! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

USCIS

Today we had an appointment at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office to get our fingerprints taken. This is just another step toward the completion of our "Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative" and once approved will grant us advance immigration approval. Pretty cool!

I couldn't take any pictures while we were there because we weren't allowed to have our cell phones on, but the process was pretty quick and efficient. Thankfully it was quick because I had an interesting lady taking my fingerprints. She managed to ask me "is blonde really your hair color?," "were you a blonde when you were little?," and "are you sure??" Hello, I'm standing right in front of you with my blonde mane! After an in-depth discussion about my hair, she moved on to the fact that she couldn't believe someone so young would be adopting. She told me most people wait until their late 30s, 40s, 50s, and yes, 60s before adopting because "then they know they can't have their own kids." Hmm...as if that's why we're adopting!  I thought she might finally be coming around when said  "an adopted child is just like any other child," but then she decided to finish the sentence with "because you can't take 'em back once you get 'em!" Gee, thanks for that revelation, lady!

A friend of mine who is currently in the process of adopting a child from China recently wrote a blog post about the petition I mentioned earlier, and it's so beautiful I thought I'd share. It's much more eloquently written and doesn't involve any hair color or age discrimination :) Check it out here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Provision: Every Step

Wow! God is so faithful.

As we've been preparing for our Project 1:27 event this weekend, I've been somewhat worried about getting all of the supplies. My biggest concern was getting over 100 stepping stones to create a walkway. And not just any type of stepping stones, but ones that matched the existing ones already in the yard. Imagine my surprise when I was visiting with a friend on Monday and she told me that the previous owner of the house left a ton of stepping stones. And not just any stepping stones, but the exact ones we needed. WOW!! My friend and her husband graciously donated all of them! Thank you friend! :)

I can't help but smile thinking about how detail-oriented God is and that he provided us with the exact stepping stones we needed. It may seem silly, but it was exactly what I needed at the exact right time.

Not only has God provided us with literal stepping stones, he's provided financially for us every step of the way. Every single financial deadline for the adoption has been met just in time. Anytime I'm feeling discouraged or concerned, He always provides someone in my path to offer me encouragement and confirmation.

I'm looking forward to our project this Saturday and pray it will be a blessing for everyone involved. If you'd like to sponsor the project, it's not too late! Follow the instructions on the right side of the blog or click here to read more about it. Thanks!