Thursday, July 30, 2009

When will I get to go?

So, you are all probably aware now that we have official applied to the Russia adoption program with European Adoption Consultants. We are very excited about this. They have been very helpful over the past few weeks. I have called several times and asked about a million questions. They never did get annoyed with me, and they were very informative.

The process in Russia is different from the one in Taiwan, so I'm going to do my best to explain what we are about to go through.

Once you finish your home study (ours should be done in a couple of weeks), you send it to the agency for review. The home study was not nearly as bad as I thought. And for those reading this and thinking "geez, it took them forever to finish their home study." That was totally our fault. See your home study is only good for about a year. We didn't want to finish it early and then have to redo it later. We kept putting off the completion date so that we could formally apply to another program.

The next step is the dossier. This should be interesting. Below is a list of the required documents for the dossier.

The following documents must be notarized and/or certified and apostilled:

  • Marriage license / Birth certificate (if single*)
  • Financial statement for Adoptive Applicant ODHS 1681
  • Photos of adoptive family and home
  • Home Study from Licensed Agency
  • Home Study Agency's license (current)
  • Social Worker's License
  • Agency Letter of Authorized Services
  • Consent and Approval Form
  • Post Placement Verification Letter
  • Local police clearance on letterhead
  • Employment letter on letterhead (This cannot be written by yourself personally. It must be written by employer or accountant.)
  • Photocopy of Passports
  • Powers of Attorney - must be typed
  • Statement of Living Conditions
  • Promise to Register with Consulate
  • Promise to Register with Post Placement
  • Copy of I-171H Notice of Favorable Determination, cabled to Moscow, Russia, DO NOT notarize the original, only copies.

I have some of this stuff already, but I'm going to have to get busy requesting the rest of it. The agency said that it usually takes the adoptive parents about 2 months to get this stuff together. I better get started right away!

Ok the next part of this blog is just some useful info about adoption (I'm hoping after you read my series of blogs and you see us at home with our beautiful baby you will want to run off to get one of your own! It would be a perfect world if there were no more orphans...that all the babies in the world would be taken care of by loving parents!). This information is just based on my limited research. I could be totally wrong…I guess we shall see over the next few months.

After you finish your dossier to Russia, and it is accepted, you are officially on "The List." The next step is waiting. Depending on your requests (boy vs. girl, infant vs. toddler, healthy vs. minor health issues) your wait could be anywhere from 6-12 months. We are requesting a healthy infant, no gender specified, so our wait could be about 6-9 months.

Next, we should get the Referral. This is a package we should receive by mail/ups/fedex with a picture of a child (remember the old story about the stork delivering the children…well the mail man will deliver ours…hehe). We might get some medical information; some people have even gotten videos (I'm not going to get my hopes up too high for either of those, because that doesn't happen very often). Jace and I will then decide if this is the child God has planned for us. If so, we agree to travel to Russia to meet the baby.

One reason we didn't initially select Russia is because of the travel requirements. In the past, adoptive parents have had to make two trips to Russia. Recently, they have been requiring that the parents make at least 3 trips. This is a bit of a bummer.

On the first trip (taken about 2 months after referral), you meet the baby and officially accept the referral. Jace and I will get to love on the baby for all of about 5 days…then we get to come back home. Oh yes, that's right. We have to leave the baby there and come back home. This has to be the worst part of the entire process…but it is the rules and we want to abide by the rules.

The second trip is for us to appear in court to get legal custody of the baby. This trip usually takes about 7 days. I'm a bit worried about this one. I've never appeared in an American court, so doing this in Russia where I don't speak the language should be real interesting! If the judge decides to grant us custody, there is a 10 day waiting period before we can bring the baby home. Sometimes the judge can decide to waive this waiting period, but because of recent abuse cases involving Russian children in the United States, they are becoming stricter about this little rule.

At this time, Jace and I can choose to come home, wait 10 days in the states, and go back to Russia to pick up the baby. OR we could stay in Russia for the full 10 days. One of the people I talked to at EAC said that some families decide to stay and do some touristy things in Europe. I'm trying to convince Jace that this is a great idea. I've always wanted to travel through Europe, and this would be a great excuse.

So after the 10 days, the baby is ours. We get to come home. Very exciting, I know. Stay tuned for more…we have a conference call tonight with EAC to go over the required documents and such.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How clean are you?

Ok. So it's no secret that Jace and I are not the cleanest people in the world. If you have any questions about my cleanliness, call Brooke. Brooke lived with me for two and a half years in college, and she had to do all the cleaning! And Jace…well let's just say he's worse than me.

We get by. Each week we do our best to change the sheets and clean the toilets, but lately with all the running, biking and traveling, the cleaning has been sorely lacking.

The most cleaning I've done all week was the bath I gave to my sweet puppies yesterday. Ella loves to take a bath. When I got home yesterday, I told her that she was going to get a bath. Well that sweet puppy rushed into the bathroom, pushed open the shower curtain and sat in the tub. I wasn't even ready to bath them. I changed clothes, gathered up towels and shampoo, and hooked up our little sprayer thing that goes on the sink. Ella just sat there very patiently and waited for her bath.

Lucy, on the other hand, is not so fond of the bath. She will get in the tub, and she is really good while I bathe her, but she's not going to tear open the shower curtain to beat anyone to the tub.

Yesterday, I also met with Elly. She cleans one of our friend's houses, and comes highly recommended. I really liked her when I first met her. When I pointed out the stack of "stuff" sitting next to my husband's side of the bed, she says "I know husbands," meaning that she understands that there is no method to their madness.

Today was her first official day. Yes that's right, I met her yesterday, and she asked if she could start the next day. Oh how wonderful. She came to my house about 7am, with two other ladies. They cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned. I made it home at 5, they were all still there. Rather than disturb them, I decided to stop off at my neighbor's house. They just got back from vacation and I wanted to see how things went. This is the same neighbor who's son told me he didn't like big dogs because they have too much hair (check out this blog).

I left their house about 30 minutes later, Elly and her team were still hard at work at my house. I decided to run to the bank. That took all of 15 minutes. At this point I decided that I had to go work out, so I would run through the house quickly and get my workout clothes and then go to the gym.

As I approached the door, I could already see some of their work. The window on the front door (which I have NEVER cleaned) was clear. You could actually see through it. When I opened the door, I was greeted by two of the sweetest puppies ever (Lucy and Ella, of course). Yes that's right; she just let them play in the house while she cleaned. They love her! (Sorry Aunt Tricia). She said they were so sweet all day. Ella spent the day napping under our bed, and Lucy followed Elly around the house while she was cleaning.

Well I ran through, got my clothes and headed to the gym. Everything I saw on my run through the house was so clean!! Jace made it home around 6:30 and they were still there. Jace didn't want to disturb them, so he unloaded his bike (he went bike riding at the spillway today…took an awful spill…hopefully he will write his own blog on that one…anyway). He also took time to wash off the bike and himself. Sometime within the next 30 minutes, the cleaning team loaded up their stuff and headed out.

So yes, for those of you keeping track, this wonderful cleaning team was at my house from 7am to about 7pm. Did I have a messy house? I think so!

This lady and her team did an amazing job with my house! The whole house smells so good! She cleaned everything! The best things she did was the shower (oh it was just nasty), my vanity area (check out the picture below…I wish I had a "before" shot to show you how bad it was), and the folding of the towels and tissues.

So there was one catastrophe during the day of cleaning. I forgot to warn them that my washing machine has a tendency to walk. Well they washed the blanket from my bed, and then went to cleaning the bathroom in the back. They didn't hear the washing machine as it began its march across the laundry room. Yes that's right. The fight between the walking washing machine and the poor unexpecting shelf. It managed to take down the shelf where we hang our clean clothes. I'm not really all that upset about this, because I wanted to put up one of those shelves that has a full bar so you can slide the clothes from side to side. I think Elly expected me to be mad, but who could get upset at her…she was cleaning my house!

Well, Jace and I went through each room checking out the wonderful job Elly did for us. When we got to the bathroom where Ella takes her bath, she stopped and sat there. We continued to inspect all the other rooms, but not Ella, she just sat there. I think that after all that cleaning, she thought she was going to get another bath. Poor thing.

She returns every two weeks. Please feel free to stop by my house every other Thursday to see what a great job Elly does.