25 July 2012

The Document Grab

So, y'all, there are a LOAD of documents you need. My dossier checklist is kind of depressing because you need triplicates of everything, so there are a lot of unchecked boxes (30). Yes, thirty documents I still need.

There are a couple of things you can do, psh, right now if you want. Ordering some birth certificates is a good idea. Whether you need them for your dossier or not, you'll need one for your homestudy, one for your I-600A, and one (or two to be safe) for when you travel. Something you should know about newly-issued birth certificates: you cannot copy them. As in, you can't fully read the print because it says," VOID" alllllll over it. So there's that.

To get your birth certificate in Texas, simply go to Vital Statistics. As of this date, copies are $22 each. Yes, documents add up.

Marriage licenses in Texas can be obtained at your local county seat. In Brazos county, they're around $20 (look, I didn't keep a receipt or anything). I think documents are a total racket because, at least here, they just print out a scanned copy, press the little indent into it and sign. It's like 3 minutes' work for 20 bucks. Laa-aaaame.

You will need (at least for a dossier to Uganda) a criminal background check. Check with your homestudy agency if they can give you a copy of the one they had to do for you during that process. If they can't, the FBI does them in a fairly streamlined fashion. You will have to submit a set of fingerprints, even though you're going to be fingerprinted for your I-600A. Yes, that's stupid; it's the government.

If you need a child abuse clearance, those are super easy in Texas (and freeee! I wish we needed ours because it was free!). I did a bit of internet digging, so email me if you want the form, since I'm not positive I can easily link to how I got the info.

For your homestudy, you'll need a verification of your employment by your employer. I'd suggest to go ahead and get them so sign and notarize a few copies at the beginning so you don't have to ask them to do it again during dossier prep.

You'll need a lot more documents (copies of your passport photo pages, for example), but those don't require steps. I already told you about the big pain it was to get doctors' letters and such. If you're adopting from a country that's a leetle more uptight about things like health, they may require some kind-of-outrageous things (chest x-rays, anyone?), and having a psych eval done is somewhat standard (and expensive) procedure. Check around to see if anyone who does psych testing is an adoptive or foster parent. They'll make your life a little easier (email me if you're in CS; I know a great guy). But I don't know much about that  aspect.

23 July 2012

The I-600A

Something you should know on the outset: this form is for non-Hague countries. The form of this kind for Hague countries is the I-800A, and I have no experience with that one. So there's that.

Now, I realize I should probably make my next post on acquiring all the supporting documents you need to file various and sundry things (birth certs, marriage certs, etc), but just imagine you've already gotten those.

Your I-600A is an exciting document. It's your request to the government that they approve you to adopt from the country you specify. I think thing #2 you should know (thing #1 having been what the doc even is) is that this thing takes for-ev-er to be processed. As in, if they get bogged down, it could be 3 MONTHS before you receive your determination. That determination is called the I-171H, the "notice of favorable determination for advance processing of an orphan petition."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Even though your agency should send you instructions on how to fill out the I-600A, always check with USCIS for their latest incarnation of this thing (and fees, etc). You know the government.

With these couple of sheets of paper on which the future of your family depends (nbd), you will submit the supporting documents: birth certificates/naturalization papers/passport copy, marriage license/divorce decree/death certificate. These documents can be copies, but you should know that newly-issued Texas birth certificates do not copy. As in they literally have that written all over them when you try to black and white copy. And of course you'll send a check. The instructions at USCIS will have the current fee. Don't forget to add the fingerprinting fee required for each adult in the house. I should tell you, this puppy is one expensive document. Our I-600A, with fingerprints, will be $890.

The directions are, of course, not really THAT clear for being so danged wordy. For example, on the current incarnation, they don't really tell you what to write on block III if you aren't requesting an accommodation for a disability. Apparently you just leave it blank. I put "no" all the way down... We'll see if it works out okay... fingers crossed.

I'm told that at some point, we will get an appointment to get our fingerprints taken. I don't know why our fingerprints need to be taken and taken (I mean, Stephen and I were both fingerprinted when we were hired at GCM, and I was fingerprinted when I was with our ISD, so come on, guys!). It's not like they change. But once that happens, I'll let you know how it goes.

For us, as soon as we get our I-171H, we go on the wait list at our agency. Which is kind of a big deal. Then, the REAL wait begins.

22 July 2012

Home Study - Complete!

So our homestudy is finished and I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!

It certainly does NOT normally take this long. The laaaast bit our homestudy agency was waiting on was to confer with our adoption agency on what our specific country might need in its report. Since we left our original program (and roamed all over the earth, essentially), they had to wait until we signed up with our new program and new country.

Since our "new" program is Uganda and our new agency IS our homestudy agency, things moved quickly. They got it signed, notarized, and sent the two copies to us. Some states don't let you have copies of your homestudy, and some don't even let the social worker tell you any parts of the home study, but Texas lets the agency send us copies. That way we can make copies for when we send in grant applications. Yay!

Next I'll share about our Orientation (which, normally, would have been before our homestudy, but wasn't for us), and then I'll share about the I-600A. Are we all excited?!? I'm sure we are.

20 July 2012

Home Study Pt. 4

Soooooo only a couple months later...
I'll talk about the education portion. Every agency has different requirements, but it seems like most have you complete 10 hours of adoption training online, read books/articles, etc. Our homestudy agency deferred to our original agency, which had us do the National Council for Adoption's online training. It was a little overwhelming for Stephen because it was actually more like 13 hours, and we did it in 6 evenings, with Ezra in tow. The other sad thing about it is you need a certificate for each person, but there's no way for you to both do it on the same computer, so I had to "catch up" to Stephen every day afterwards.

I've read a few books that were really helpful. Definitely one I would recommend to anyone considering international adoption (psh, any parent would find it a good resource) is The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis. It's just so good.

They also had us read Love and Logic, which had some good things in it. I know it's just a personality quirk, but I have a hard time wanting to implement anything from a book that is all or nothing. I don't want to be a love and logic parent. I don't want to be a _____ parent, period. But, beyond my knee jerk reactions, it does have good advice on how and when to see if natural consequences work. I'm 100% skeptical because natural consequences don't work very well for me. I'm too impulsive. I still (far too frequently) will do something now, knowing full well there will be consequences later, simply because now is fun and later is whatever. My parents did a lot of natural consequencing, and anything where the consequences weren't immediate was completely ineffective. I just have a very difficult time caring about tomorrow. I don't meant o dog on my parents by any means; I have no, no idea how I would parent a person like me. I'm afraid I may learn, but it's honestly quite unnerving because I don't know what works with me other than age... I'm getting better, but I think I'm a little past being parented.

A book I currently have waiting in the wings to be read is Parenting the Hurt Child. We don't know our child's story, but adoption involves incredible loss for children, a loss or losses that will effect them for the rest of their lives in one or many ways. I'll let you know how I find it.

Anyway, our homestudy agency had us come to their office for a couple of hours of in-house training, basically a friendly-type quiz on what we'd learned. It was a little hectic because we had to bring Ezra, but he did fine and that was that.

The education requirements can seem very daunting, especially for those who don't spend a lot of their free time reading (like my husband). With the books, I highlighted parts I thought summed up what the author was saying or were especially meaningful, and that helped it seem less like a big pile of work he had to get done.

13 July 2012

New Etsy Funzies and a Legit Giveaway

*This giveaway is now closed.*

Okay, so I've been crafting all week, specifically making lots of fun earrings. Earrings are like the only jewelry I enjoy wearing (which makes me so sad now that I can't wear them if I want to keep my earlobes safe from curious hands). I stayed up way too late last night uploading the best pictures-I-got-while-being-hugged-at-the-knees-by-a-toddler to my Etsy. I have more I'll be making over the weekend, and I'll try to have those up asap.

Here are a few of my favs:
Suspicious Snake

I'm Nacred

Fireworks

Color me Bad

By far my favorite thing to do is name them (since I can't wear them and sell them). If you've watched the same movies as I have or listen to the same music*, you may recognize some phrases (but it's okay if you don't watch animated movies in our spare, grown-up time). I amuse myself, but don't expect to be amused since I never ever win at Apples to Apples. The important thing in life is to think you're funny, right? [*I do NOT listen to Color Me Badd.]

Okay, here are the ways to enter to win a pair of earrings of your choice:

1) Peruse the shop and tell me in a comment which are your favorite.
2) Follow my Etsy group on Facebook and leave me a comment saying you did or you already do.
3) Give to our Adoption ChipIn and leave a comment that you did (This is the only one where I may leave a comment in your stead if you forget.)
4) Buy a piece of jewelry on Etsy and leave a comment that you did.
4) Link to this giveaway on your blog or Facebook and leave a comment that you did.

For real this time, if you don't leave a comment, you can't win! I'll get a screenshot of the winning comment number from random.org on Sunday the 26th in the afternoon, so make sure you have your comments in by then.

Thanks for your support in helping us bring home our next child!

Our ChipIn

12 July 2012

A UGANDAN Family

Yes, we are back where we've belonged this whole time. We've been accepted into the Uganda program with our homestudy agency. You may remember that we were with a different agency prior to the new requirements changing. There are no hard feelings on our side; we just wanted to stick with an agency we had a real relationship with and who were close to home (as in, Waco, not the East Coast). The other agency was going through some transitions, and we feel more comfortable working with an agency who we've had personal experience with being prompt, friendly, and helpful.

We will have our orientation on Monday, and then our homestudy will be finished and we'll send off our I-600A. The I-600A is the 3-page, $890 document you submit to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) that results in receiving your I-171H. That's basically a document that says the US Government approves of you adopting a orphan. Once we get that, our dossier can be submitted to Uganda, and we'll start the wait to be matched!

This week has been a bit of a flurry of activity for me (FINALLY I CAN GET SOME THINGS DONE!), but I'll post more on that tomorrow. :D

For those of you who remember that we were totally freaked out by the crazy requirements: yes, one of the two judges who grant guardianship does still require all of those things. Yes, I am fervently praying we don't get that judge. But our agency does take mission trips to Uganda, and what could be a better way to visit than to go back, not as a tourist, but as a helper, to play with the kids at the same orphanage our child may be in right now?

God is good.

04 July 2012

Okay, HERE's a current picture...

But E had been swimming. My darling husband fashioned his hair this way, and, because it was full of sunscreen, things got a lil crazy.

Now, don't start lining up for a cut n style all at once, now. Happy Independence Day, all!

Ezra is 16 months!

Okay, I'm not gonna lie... These photos are from exactly one month ago... WE'RE BAD PARENTS! Or whatever. I'll take a couple today and put them up. Oh yeah, happy 4th!

Oh, Daisy.
Developmentally, Ezra is moving along. He climbs ev-er-y-thing right now, but he doesn't always know how to get himself down (from standing on the coffee table, for example). He's started throwing little tantrums, but luckily for us he yells, not screams. He also turns in circles when he does sometimes, and it can be really hard not to laugh.

He's making progress on words - I feel so hesitant to say he's "saying" things now because he's clearly said some things a couple of times, but then I don't hear them again. But his favorite thing to say right now is "hot." I think because he can actually say it very clearly, everything is hot. It's kind of perplexing. He also said "water" (wawa) for the first time this evening. He says "day" for Django and he says "out" pretty well. He was saying "ice" really well but hasn't for a few days... is that a normal thing for y'all? It's like he knows he can say it, so he works on something else or something.

His excited face.
My favorite thing he's started doing is pointing to features on his face. His favorite (or the one he remembers most often) is his nose. He points to it and we say, "Ezra's nose!" like he's just done the most wonderful and exciting thing in the world. He's been experimenting with his eye (or really tear duct), and he knows our tongues and ears but hasn't quite gotten those on himself consistently yet.

He's also started trying to put our shoes on for us. I don't know, it seems so strange, but it's fine that I end up wearing two different shoes that are Stephen's some days. At least he doesn't try with his shoes on my feet; there's no helping them.
"Leetle leetle leetle leetle!" is what his grandpa sings to him.

He loves to read books over and over (and over and over) again, but lately he hasn't been "reading" them by himself much. I think now he's more interested in what the things in the books are called than just looking at the pictures.

He didn't gain weight from his 9 month well visit until the week before his 15 month visit (I kid you not), so he was in the 20th percentile for length, 5th for weight, and 90th for head circumference. Yes, he has a Muenich noggin. Love it!

video
 Watch this. It's short and amusing.

He's still kind of a perplexing eater: loving things one day and refusing to eat them for weeks after (or ever again, in the case of steamed carrots). I've been trying to get him on a snack-meal schedule, but I definitely don't have it down - I try to feed him and he eats like 2 peas and 3 cheerios and a teensy piece of apple and then his behavior falls apart 30 minutes later because he's starvicating.

I think he maybe should be saying more words, but I'm not really worried about it. He's a stubborn little person with a great deal to say, and more and more of it is becoming comprehensible. He's such a delight to us. He still has to be one of the happiest toddlers around. Love you, Pez!

03 July 2012

Weaning

Yawl. I'm about to get real serious.

 E is 16 months old and like 2 months into being weaned. I guess I don't really see the big deal in continuing to nurse past 12 months because it just gets a thousand times easier now that he's not relying on me for food. E nurses for comfort, and it makes my life easier to nurse him, honestly. Part of me is kind of glad we're weaning so I am forced to learn other parenting techniques to help him settle. He already gets tantrum-y, either from not getting his way, or from not being able to express what he wants, or both.

That wasn't meant to be anything about anyone else; I'm just saying I don't mind nursing him like 4 or 5 times a day or something. It doesn't make running errands or going to friends' houses or really anything difficult. But we're going on our church staff retreat at the beginning of August for 6 days, and E is staying with my parents. So we've been weaning him. And it's been so hard lately.

Like last night, He woke up 7 times. SEVEN. And I mean 7 times between 1 and 4:30, at which point he came to bed with us because I can only handle closing the door on him and letting him wail himself to sleep once every few nights. He even got to nurse for an hour from 3-4 because I was so tired that I fell asleep in the rocker - very first time I've done that.

I can't tell if he's honestly not ready, or just exercising his already strong will. I love his little strong will, but he is killing me slowly right now! We're down to 3 feedings, and I just don't know how to go to fewer, but I'm determined not to just leave him with my parents to be cut off from the comfort he obviously seeks. I would not push weaning at all except that I need to go to our staff retreat (I mean, I'm on staff), and we won't get anything done if he's there.

I know I'm just complaining, but it just seems like we're stuck in this situation, and I think this is the less-traumatic way than just cutting him off when we leave for staff retreat, but I'm not sure this is the less-traumatic way for me. :) Please tell me it will get better! I am losing hope that my child will EVER sleep through the night, or even only wake up once.