Today a couple of milestones have been reached. Last week we received word from our social worker that our homestudy was complete! We couldn't be happier. Vito was able to pick up the completed homestudy from our agency on Friday along with the I-800A instructions. Over the weekend we filled it out... proofed it, and then proofed it again. Today we dropped it off at the local Fedex dropbox with our certified check. In case you are wondering the I-800A starts the process to bring a child into the United States from another country. It generally takes 3 months to complete, if all goes well. At some point they will contact us to come into their office for biometric tests. So for now we are going to just enjoy the holidays!
Last week we had a few glitches. Vito's Pennsylvania child abuse clearance form came back because they needed more info (they wanted to know every place he had ever lived and every person he had lived with since 1975.) Who knew. We provided the info and sent it back, hopefully the various college roomates he lived with years ago are upstanding, honest citizens now.
I had to have my medical papers redone (Dr. forgot to mark no to Wassermans, and Vito asked if I had something to tell him....I am clean and the Dr. fixed it :-)) Picked them up and shipped them off to be apostilled...again.
I decided to call the FBI to find out where our long over due clearance records were. They were yet to even be entered in the system. I asked if there was anyway they could expedite them. She asked what they were for, and when I told her our international adoption she said she would find out where they were. The next day (Friday night at 7pm) we received a call from the FBI to tell me they found them and would start processing them that night. Needless to say we received them the following week. Again...both clean. Yeah for the FBI!
Our last glitch was the state of MA refusing to apostille Vito's work verification because the notary did not use the "official notary language". We called the state to get specific requirements and then called to get a new letter. We are just waiting for that one to come in the mail.
On the bright side, we had another meeting with Erin, our social worker. We went over the homestudy she had written, handed over many documents, and went over financial info. She works side by side with the agency and I must say they have been really great to work with so far. We were able to meet in Lina's office and see her wall of pictures of all of the beautiful children that she was apart of adopting. The only thing we are waiting on to complete our homestudy is the child abuse clearance documents from the former states we have lived in.
Our social worker loaned us this movie called "5000 miles". It is a documentary about a couple who adopts a child from Poland. I highly recommend it for those of you who are adopting! It was really neat to see their experience and I have to admit many tears were shed.
Part of adopting from Poland, is a promise to teach the child about their birth country. We were fortunate to find a Polish Festival, this past weekend, in Castle Hayne, NC. We thought this would be a great place for us to learn a little more about Polish culture. The festival was a lot of fun, people were dressed up, there was a Polish band, and of course we ate a lot of Polish food. Since we were close to the beach we decided to spend the weekend there. We drove over to Wrightsville beach to let Scooter swim. We camped at Carolina Beach State Park (we camped there last summer and really liked it.) We spent the next day exploring Cape Fear and took a ferry from Fort Fisher to Southport. It turned out to be a great weekend....a taste of Poland, a walk along the beach, and a ferry ride all under a beautiful North Carolina blue sky!
This week we received Vito's birth certificate notarized by the county of New York. Within minutes of receiving the Fedex we put it back in another Fedex back to NY State to verify the City and County stamps. We also both had our medical exams today (just need to wait for the TB results this Friday, but so far no swollen forearms!) Tonight we will fill out child abuse clearance forms and send them to the following states. Colorado, Utah, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Alaska. We have to be cleared in every state we have lived in since we were 18 no matter how short of a period (hence Alaska, where I only lived for a couple of months). Fortunately, we don't have to come up with too many old addresses. I would have a a hard time with that since I have moved so much. Everything seems to be as good as expected...the only exception is our clearance of fingerprints from the FBI. We sent those in almost a month ago and they said it would only take 3 weeks. I am concerned because I just read another couples blog who's fingerprints could not be read by the FBI, so they have to start over. We hope the girl that took our fingerprints knew what she was doing. On a positive note, one of our blog friends just got a travel date to meet their 1 and 4 year old in Poland. That made our day!
We received our first apostilled documents this week (buy stock in FedEx...we are doing as much business with them as a corporate office...our Fed Ex delivery man is very nice and gives Scooter treats.) This process was something new to us, but we learned very quickly as this is a necessity for international adoption. Our birth certificates and marriage licenses had to be sent back to the state they were issued from to be apostilled. After a document become apostilled it becomes an official international document. The secretary of state notarizes the original notary. New york has an extra step and was little confusing to figure but after reading other blogs we figured it out. Let us know if you have any questions about apostillizing documents in New York, we would be happy to help.
We had our first homestudy visit today. Our social worker came to our home to interview us. She asked a few questions that made Vito get gooshy but overall it was a good meeting. I knew we didn't have to dust the base boards for this meeting but better safe than sorry...the house was spotless, and the pumpkin pie scented candle was burning. Scooter was a bit rambunctious when she arrived but he slept through the remainder of the meeting. The questionaires that we were asked to fill out asked many questions about our childhoods, our relationship, and how we will raise a child. We sat side by side on our laptops (Ramie is a MAC, Vito is a PC) for hours answering the questions with all of our hearts. We sat on our front porch rockers at 11:00 pm on a beautiful night and read our answers to each other. What started out as a long task ended as a soul searching lesson that brought us closer together.
Part of our approval is based on adoption education classes. Fortunately, we can do them online, at our own pace, and sit outside with our laptops enjoying the beautiful fall colors in our backyard (love technology!) So far we have completed 5 of them with a total of 11 classes to complete. We have to take a test at the end of each class (yes we have passed them all so far.) Here is an example of some of the classes we will be taking: Attachment and bonding, culture and identity, behavioral and mental disorders, effects of institutionalization, fetal alcohol syndrome, malnutrition, prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol and travel and transition. If this sounds a little overwhelming and kind of discouraging.....it is. I guess they just want you to be prepared for the worst case scenario. The great news is that most kids are healthy and happy, and while they may need a little extra help to deal with some of the above issues-it is better for us to be equipped to help them. And really what kid doesn't need a little extra help and love now and then!
We received a letter from the agency with a list of papers to collect. Some of the papers we have started to gather: Vito (Mr. Excel Spreadsheet) has put together a color coded spreadsheet with 51 line items and timeline.
Birth certificates Marriage certificate Letters of reference Clearance from the FBI (fingerprints) Financial statements and Tax Returns Medical Histories Letters from our employer
After a lot of research, thought and prayer we finally decided on an agency and country. These two decisions took us a very long time, but now we are finally ready to get the ball rolling. We had to fill out 2 applications-1 for the homestudy and one for the agency. After being approved we were sent the contracts to sign. The highlight of this part was sitting with a friend from work while she notarized our signature 45 times. Thanks Martha Jean for spending an hour after work on a Friday afternoon!
For those of you who know us, you know we love a good adventure. Well here it is.....we are going to adopt a child from Poland. We officially started the process right before our 5th anniversary. We know this is going to be an adventure with both ups and downs, but we are both up for the challenge. While researching adoption, we found other couples blogs very helpful so we decided to make our own blog....plus it helps with everyone asking minutes after we tell them...when are you going to bring home a child?? So whether you are a loved one who is following our journey or a couple who is thinking about adoption, we hope you enjoy our blog and thanks for joining our adventure with us.