Last week I got a call from Abbe, a lady who works for CHSFS.  She is the one who originally called me about Tom’s ADD–the one who requested the doctor’s letter.  They received the letter late last week and she said it was very positive.  However, there is still no guarantee that the Korean government will allow us to adopt.  Abbe told me she would be sending a copy of the doctor’s letter to the head of CHSFS’ Korea program, who would then forward the information to her Korean contact for pre-approval.  All last weekend I thought and worried about it, and ended up sitting down at the computer and writing a short letter to accompany Tom’s medical information.  I wanted to make sure that the official making this decision knows how much of a connection we have with the people and culture of Korea.  Tom and I have both lived there at different points in our lives, as has my family, and we have a great respect and love for it.  I sent Abbe a copy of our letter on Monday, and she forwarded it to the head of the Korea program this week, along with the doctor’s letter and a brief family bio (since they don’t have a home study to refer to yet).  It is very hard for me, knowing that an anonymous person over in Korea has complete control over our future as adoptive parents.  I’m not sure what our options will be if the result is not what we are hoping for, but we’ll cross that bridge if the time comes.  In the meantime, we will glady accept any and all prayers!

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  I don’t have much in the way of news on our adoption, as the process has been going a lot more slowly than we had hoped.  After we completed our pre-adoption training class last month, we fully intended to have our remaining paperwork finished within a week or so, and we hoped to complete our social worker interviews and go on our agency’s waiting list by mid-October.  Well, it’s mid-October and we are still waiting on one last document for our paperwork.  We ran into a bit of a hitch with some medication Tom is taking, and our agency thought it best to get a letter of explanation from Tom’s doctor to head off any questions/concerns the Korean government might have.  It made sense to us, though the idea that the Korean government would be so concerned about something we consider pretty trivial is hard to understand.  As many of you know, working with the military medical system is difficult sometimes and we almost never see the same doctor twice.  That makes it doubly hard–and frustrating–when you have to explain your medical situation over and over again to different doctors.  Thankfully, we believe we’ve finally made it over that last hurdle, and we expect to be assigned a social worker in the next week or so.  So our revised goal is to be on the agency’s waiting list by Thanksgiving!  I guess the lesson learned here is that nothing is ever as easy as it first appears to be, and that you really need to learn to roll with the punches.

A fantastic book for those researching international adoption!

Okay, I couldn’t figure out how to show a picture of this book on the right side of the blog, so I thought I’d just add a post about it!  I found this book to be invaluable while I was researching our international adoption options.  The info is comprehensive, though Ms. Davenport may want to consider updating it with the new Hague Convention requirements for those families seeking to adopt from Hague countries.  Perhaps the best feature is the appendix of countries and their adoption programs, laid out in an easy-to-read format.  If you are at all interested in international adoption, I highly recommend purchasing this book and reading it with a highlighter in hand!  You can check out Dawn Davenport’s website, Finding Your Child, which she updates regularly with new country-specific information, by following the link on the right.

It’s been awhile since I updated with some adoption news!  Tom and I attended CHSFS’ Pre-Adoption Class for parents in the paperwork process.  It was an all-day class with some great information, and we both learned a lot.  And it really made me feel like this is all really going to happen!  It may sound strange, but it’s easy to get caught up in all of the paperwork, and forget that in the end, we’ll be bringing home a lovely little girl.  We learned a few more things about the Korea program and what is involved, including some interesting tidbits that we didn’t know before–for example, the wait time is significantly less for those parents seeking to adopt a boy (or for those without children at home, who are not allowed to choose–they will almost certainly receive a boy) because Korean domestic adoptions are usually for girls.  This goes against a lot of what I know about the Korean culture and how they generally favor male children.  I hope this is an indication of a growing cultural change in Korea! 

Next for us is our social worker interviews.  The agency still needs a few documents to finish compiling our paperwork, but as soon as those arrive, they will assign us a social worker.  She can typically complete our interviews in a couple of weeks, depending on how our schedules fit.  After that, she has 30 days to complete our home study document.  However, we were thrilled to find out that we will go on CHSFS’ Korea waiting list as soon as our interviews are complete and we are given final approval to adopt!  That’s when we’ll begin the 9-12 month wait for a referral of a little girl.  After we accept a referral, we will travel to pick her up generally within 10-12 weeks.  I’m excited about nearing the end of our paperwork process (we will still have some more to do, such as our USCIS filings, but the worst of it is definitely over!), and beginning the wait for our daughter.

I’m still a little hesitant to make this a permanent decision, but it looks like we’re changing gears and moving towards an adoption from Korea rather than China.  I went to an informational meeting with Children’s Home Society & Family Services last weekend, and I liked what they had to say.  I enjoyed hearing about all of their programs, and I was especially impressed with their Ethiopia program.  However, we are more comfortable with Asia, and I think their Korea program will be a good fit for us.  Tom and I sent in our registration form early this week, and shortly thereafter received an e-mail from CHSFS including our application packet and about two dozen other attachments!  We’re currently wading through the paperwork and getting forms filled out.  We need to get fingerprinted and have a few forms notarized, as well as gather some of our financial data and medical clearances, but for the most part we have everything we need.  I’m very excited about taking this step!  We haven’t yet closed our file with CCAI (and even after that, I plan to keep a link to their site on this blog–they are a wonderful agency), but that’s mainly me procrastinating and delaying the inevitable.  I think I need to let myself get used to the idea before I make it permanent–it’s such a big step, but an exciting one!

  Tom and I have done some pretty serious soul-searching the past few days.  We’re concerned with the lengthening wait time for China–for those of you who aren’t familiar with the adoption process, prospective new parents send their paperwork dossiers to China and then wait (and wait, and wait) for the CCAA to choose a child based on the applicants’ preferences (girl vs. boy, preferred ages, etc.).  Currently they are handing out referrals for people whose dossiers were received in their offices in January 2006.  That means those people have been waiting for 2 1/2 years, and the wait time is only projected to increase over the next couple of years.  Once the CCAA processes those dossiers filed in May 2007, things should pick up (they put more restrictions on prospective parents, which reduced the number of dossiers submitted), but I worry about just how long it will take them just to get there.

  So anyway, we have started looking into Korea as another option.  We considered Korea back when we first began this whole process, and it was our first choice of countries, but while living in Maryland we didn’t have access to many agencies who could facilitate an adoption from Korea.  Now that we are in Virginia, there are a few agencies available to us.  We like Korea for a number of reasons.  Firstly, they don’t require a dossier!  What a relief that would be, to NOT have to run around getting documents notarized/certified/authenticated.  Also, it is widely accepted that children in the Korean foster-care system have excellent medical care, and I’ve read that their medical files are pretty thorough.  The children selected for international adoption are placed in foster homes rather than orphanages, and as a result receive more one-on-one attention and care.  And what is certainly of great interest to us–the entire process takes about a year (but could be a few months longer, since we intend to request a girl).  So there you have it.  I am very reluctant to leave CCAI behind, as they have been very good to us and very up-front about the wait times.  They have no control over it, though they end up feeling a lot of the pain.  Our decision is not final as of yet, and I’ll be sure to keep this blog updated!

We’ve been in the new house for a couple of weeks now, and it is wonderful!  Of course, considering the house we were living in before, just about any place is an improvement.  But we love all the extra space and the swingset/treehouse in the backyard has been a big hit with the boys and their friends.  We still have quite a few boxes to unpack from the move itself, and even more boxes that we’d had stacked in our storage shed–if anything, this move has shown us just how much extra stuff we’ve been toting around all these years!  It is definitely time to go through all those extra boxes and throw out/donate what we don’t need anymore.  It will be hard, especially on me because I’m such a pack rat, but it absolutely needs to be done!

  On the adoption side of things, I’m in the process of completing the application for our chosen homestudy agency.  However, they require addresses for every place we’ve lived since the age of 18, which is proving difficult for Tom!  Once we have everything together, we can really get going.  I ordered copies of our birth & marriage certificates and got the ball rolling on my passport, so we’re starting to get back on track!  As daunting as the paperchase is, I’m ready to jump in with both feet!

A couple of weeks ago we had Connor dedicated at our church, Grace Brethren of Clinton.  It was a lovely, simple ceremony, and we were blessed to have Tom’s brother with us, as well as our friends (and Connor’s godparents), the Kardoes’.  Unfortunately, Nicole was sick and wasn’t able to make it, but Michael brought their kids Ryan, Jillian and Rebecca out for the event.  Everyone had a great time!  Pastor Irv Clark conducted the dedication, and Connor behaved beautifully (despite going without his nap!).  Tim took pictures, and I will post a few below.  Afterwards, we all enjoyed lunch together before the Kardoes family headed back to Virginia.  We are very much looking forward to when we will live just a few minutes away from them!  Less than a month left until our move!

Connor\'s Dedication     Connor\'s Dedication     Connor\'s Dedication     Connor\'s Dedication

  …The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down/People ride in a hole in the ground/New York, New York!  It’s a wonderful town!

  To celebrate Tom’s upcoming birthday, his brother Tim flew in and earlier this week they took a much-anticipated trip to New York.  Tim managed to swing a couple of tickets to see the Yankees walk all over the Boston Red Sox, and selected a couple of shows he thought Tom would like.  In the past, Tim’s taste in theater has been spot on, and this time was no exception!  They saw the Tony-award-winning musical Spring Awakening, and The Country Girl, starring Morgan Freeman and Frances McDormand.  They were also fortunate to walk up and get last-minute tickets for Rent, Tom’s favorite Broadway production.  Before heading home, the two of them took a tour of Yankee Stadium, a real treat, especially considering that it will be demolished in the near future.  Add to all that a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and a trip to Radio City Music Hall, and it made for a memorable trip!  Here are a few pictures:

Watching the Yankees beat the Red Sox!     Watching batting practice before the game     Hangin\' out in the Yankees dugout     Walking the bridge

  It was a great trip and I’m so glad Tim was able to come out to visit!  We always enjoy having him out, and the boys love spending time with their uncle.  This weekend we’re getting Connor dedicated at church, which should be great fun.  I’ll update with more pictures afterwards!

  Our adoption process continues to move along slowly.  I feel somewhat frustrated, as I really want to get going on our paperwork!  But we need to wait until we have moved and our address is officially updated, so there’s no confusion as to where our birth & marriage certificates, etc. need to be sent.  The next few weeks will be especially hard on me, as I know the wait time once our paperwork is logged-in at the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) is ever-growing, and I feel a real sense of urgency.  The sooner our dossier is completed, the better!  So I’m trying to make good use of my time by mapping out exactly where all of our dossier documents will need to be sent for authorization.  It’s a head-spinning process, as each document is different, depending on the state from where it’s issued!  I’m starting to envy those prospective adoptive parents who have lived their entire lives in the same place!  And for those of you wondering about the song lyrics at the top of this post…they are from On The Town, a wonderful old Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra musical.  🙂

  Friday, April 4th was a sad day in our house.  Tom had to say goodbye to his beloved car, his 1989 Corvette.  He bought it several years ago, and it represented the ultimate fulfillment of his boyhood desire to own a Vette.  He and his brother used to stand outside the local Corvette place in their town, looking at the cars and making plans for the future.  Fast forward a couple of decades to a few years ago, when he bought it–it was like all the boys in our house (and there are a few) were on cloud nine!  Tom thorougly enjoyed driving it around, and Ian and Justin loved getting to take turns as his passenger.  Anyway, to make a long story short, the rising gas prices and our larger family made us take a hard look at our vehicles, and ultimately Tom decided it was time to invest in a more fuel-efficient, family-oriented car.  In came the used 2002 Toyota Camry, and out went the Corvette.  The transaction was finalized on Friday, under appropriately gray skies.   Here are a few final pictures of Tom with the Corvette:

Final picture of Tom with his Corvette     A little protective!

 We don’t expect this to be permanent–one day, when the kids are older, Tom fully intends to buy another Corvette, and he’ll be flying high once again!

  At Beth’s request, here is the transition picture…out with the old and in with the (somewhat) new!

Tom with the Vette and the Camry