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It is with a heavy heart that I update this blog.  We got a call from our agency late last week notifying us that the Korean agency they work with declined to accept us.  They don’t want to work with a family where one of the parents has been diagnosed with ADD, even when it is as mild as Tom’s condition.  Our agency rep, Abbe, was sympathetic, but I was crushed and it was a hard weekend for all of us.  I’m still not sure how to process all of this.  I spoke with our agency again today, and Abbe assured me that although there is no way to appeal this decision, there are other programs that could work for us.  However, Tom and I took a look at CHSFS’ other international programs this weekend, and for various reasons, we don’t feel comfortable with any of them. 

  So we are turning our sights towards domestic adoption.  We’ve been hesitant to do any serious research into it before, because we truly felt called towards an international adoption, and Korea fit so well into our lives.  I’ve requested information from a few domestic agencies, and we’ll see what they have to say.  I’m a little apprehensive about how some agencies will react to Tom being in the military and the fact that we already have three children, but I know there are good agencies out there that will work with us.  At times this all seems so overwhelming–I truly believed that this research phase was behind us for good!  I’m still very saddened by the outright rejection from the Korean agency, and I find it frustrating and confusing.  How can they ignore our obvious connection to their country?  How can they agree to work with people with minor criminal backgrounds, but refuse a stable, loving family where one of the parents just happens to have a mild concentration issue?  I doubt I’ll ever understand.  I will just keep praying that we have the perserverance and strength to continue on this quest for a daughter.

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  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!

  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.

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!