Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fear Not

I have been majorly dealing with fear during this whole adoption process. It has been totally taking away my joy. I've been worrying about whether Abby will like me, I've been worrying about how long it will take her to bond with me--or whether she ever will. I've been worrying about whether we actually heard from God about doing this adoption in the first place. I've been worrying about how we will pay for everything. It has been awful.

So earlier this week I began looking up "fear not" verses and have been working on the project for a few days. There are lots of them but here are some of my favorites.

Deuteronomy 31:7,8 Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them . . . The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

II Chronicles 20:15-17 Listen King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's . . . You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 5: 3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, In God, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Isaiah 41: 10 So do not fear, for I (God) am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 43: 1-2 . . . Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 54: 1-4 Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child, burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman . . . Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left . . . Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

Luke 12:22-34 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! . . . . Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

II Timothy 1:7 God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

I John 4:18 Perfect loves casts out all fear.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Adoption Update

Well, my big contribution to our adoption today was typing up another letter to send to Kevin's place of employment. This time I included an actual sample of what I need the requested letter to say and a picture of a certain little girl along with the SASE and W2 form. I didn't bother to ask for the letter to be notarized because Carla from AAC says we can use a cover letter instead.

Really, I believe this time will be the charm. The lady working on it from Human Resources was so nice when I spoke to her on the phone -- I think she'll do her best to get it right.

I haven't heard from our home study provider this week. I know she was hoping to have the home study done mid-July and that I held her up a bit waiting on Kevin's medicals. But I did fax them to her a week ago so . . . as far as I'm concerned it should be signed, sealed and delivered by now :) :) :)

I also started reading about a very interesting fund-raising idea mentioned on my friend Tammy's blog ( I've been racking my brain trying to come up with some amazing (or even somewhat inviting) way to get other people involved in our adoption mission in a monetary way. I've come up with less-than-innovative ideas like jog-a-thons and wondered if anyone I know would be interested in parting with any of their hard-earned dough in exchange for watching me huff and puff around the park or the football field. I honestly highly doubt it--well, with the possible exception of my ever-loyal parents. But there's this ministry called LifeSong that has a program called Both Hands where an adoptive couple gathers a team, each member of which gets people to sponsor him/her to do work on a widow's house/yard, etc. on a particular Saturday, for instance. This way you're doing both parts of James 1:27 which says that pure religion is to visit orphans and widows in their distress. All sponsorship money goes toward the adoption. I think that's the gist of it. I'll have to do some more research to see if I have it straight. BUT I can think of several people who'd be much more interested in contributing to something like this--to help a real flesh and blood lady that they already know and love in our own church or community--than any kind of raffle.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Try # 3

Today I received the 3 rd response to our request for employment verification from Kevin's main employer. As far as I can see the numbers are correct this time but it's not written as a letter, and it's not on company letterhead. I'm kind of frustrated because I was so specific about what is required. Thankfully, though, the lady from Human Resources that I've spoken to on the phone is very, very nice so maybe she won't mind one more request???

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kevin's medical forms

. . . were picked up at Kevin's Dr's office today! The receptionist has been so sweet throughout this process though she laughingly told me we couldn't adopt again for 5 years because by then the Dr. may have retired. (This is her 3rd international adoption with us) I replied that I hated to tell her that the forms will actually have to be updated in 6 months. At least I photo-copied them so we will know what goes into each blank. I wonder if we actually have to schedule appointments for physicals again at that time or just re-sign what we have??

I went ahead and faxed copies of medical letters and FBI reports to our home study worker.

And sent checks for the remainder of our home study/post-adoption reports. Slowly items are getting crossed off the list.

Financial encouragement--Praise God already!

People often ask how a person comes up with the money for an international adoption. We've done two and in our case I just have to say, "I really don't know." Somehow or other, the necessary money has been there for us when we needed it--and I'm not talking about mysterious packages in the mail full of 100 dollar bills :) :) though if anyone wants to send such a parcel my address is _____ No, just kidding--well, not totally. LOL.

For us, money for international adoptions before has come in other ways--from refinancing our house, cashing in points on our credit card, putting all our loose change in a jar, a few fund-raisers, a very low-interest adoption loan, adoption grants from Reece's Rainbow, unexpected refunds, a few friends, lawn-mowing, trying really hard to reduce our expenses (especially decreasing the number of times we 'eat out,') opening a special CD savings account, and putting extra cash away before it just goes into the black hole of household expenses and is never heard from again.

Only last night I was requesting prayer for our finances as they relate to our adoption of Abby. My husband brought home checks from both his jobs. I got the bills paid and was able to write a decent check to our adoption agency BUT it was less than half of what was still owed and I knew if the bill was not paid by the end of the month (IE, next week), the prices will go up. But then I remembered another account that might owe us money. Sure enough, when I got everything all tallied up I found out that other account owes us just enough so that we can finish paying for our home study and our 4 required post-adoption reports (yes, those expenses are charged up front) and even have a bit extra. AND in another special account we have some money put away--almost enough to cover our USCIS expenses. Isn't that cool??

Next major needs are two chunks of money that go to About A Child and their overseas partner. I wonder where those amounts will come from? I would appreciate prayers for Kevin's job--that business will really be booming for UPS Freight here in southern Idaho--because "work" is the usual way God meets our monetary needs. (Though we remember that God Himself is actually the Source)

So praise God for the amazing way He is helping us already.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Progress At Last

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your prayers. Our Almighty God has been listening and helping.

Guess what! Today Kevin and I got our FBI results back and I was very relieved to know that neither one of us has an arrest record :) :) On the form it says the fingerprints were received on June 1 and reply was given on July 14--WOW! That's WAY better than the expected 13 weeks. I hope my other adopting friends meet with such a pleasant surprise as well.

Also we have had a lovely couple agree to be Abby's guardians if anything should happen to both of us. They are lovely Christians, well-educated, talented, long marriage, even have adoption experience. This is such a Praise The Lord!

And a lady from Kevin's work called with her lovely southern accent and so very nicely offered to figure out why the amount she gave me on his employment verification letter did not jive with the W2 form. I was so grateful because I worked on that "math" problem for about 4 hours yesterday to no avail.

I tried to pick up Kevin's medical forms today. They were finished Tuesday with the exception of one date (apparently the Dr's licenses have an expiration date but not an issue date so the doc wasn't sure what to write in that blank) Would you believe Thursday is the one day of the week the office closes at noon. :( We are required to have new physicals for our home study but these particular forms are actually for our dossier--so I was just going to borrow the forms (or get a photo-copy) so I can go ahead and fax to our home study worker, Dixie (that particular blank won't affect the home study one way or another.)

I know Dixie really wanted to be done with our home study about a week ago so these last few days have been driving me crazy because everything seemed to be going at a crawl, if at all.

One thing about progress is that we now need to finish paying for the home study and will soon have USCIS fees besides needing to finish paying About A Child. I would so appreciate your prayers that God would bring us the partners we need on this missions journey. We need people to pray, we need people to encourage and--to be honest--we need people to contribute financially. Tax-deductible contributions can be made though our family profile at Reece's Rainbow--just click on Abby's picture for the link--and please specify who the contribution is for. Remember all contributions are actually kept in ABBY's name (so that if for some reason we cannot complete her adoption, the funds will still be there for another family to bring her home.)

Also please pray that God will give us profitable ideas for fund-raising. I have actually written an adoption article and am hoping that I can find a market for it--I am hoping in one of our church's weekly publications.

Friday, July 16, 2010

FBI Fingerprints

Today I got wondering where we are in the wait for the FBI self-check results since this is about a 13-week process. I was glad to see that I mailed the fingerprint cards back on May 27 so we only have until August 26--hey, that's just "next month"--5 weeks and 6 days away :) I had requested that the results be expedited and returned by July 1 since they are for an international adoption but I guess that request was denied. I'm glad Carla, the wonderful Paperwork Princess from About A Child, gave me the heads-up about getting a head-start on this dossier requirement as well.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good Grief!!

Officially we are still in the "working on our home study" category on Reece's Rainbow. But since many documents for our dossier do not expire, I have been working on gathering several of them as well. One item has been hard to come by for each of our previous international adoptions so I decided to get working on it. I'm glad I did. All we need is a simple letter from one of Kevin's employers stating how long Kevin has worked for their company, what his position is, what his hourly wage is and what his 2009 income was. This letter needs to be on company letterhead and needs to be notarized--and of course, it has to come from the corporate office back in Virginia. I spelled out the requirements very clearly when we first sent the request on June 1. I even enclosed a W-2 form to make it easy for the human resource personnel to see the 2009 wages.

The first response came surprisingly quickly but was not on letterhead, was not notarized and the income part was inaccurate. The W-2 form was returned in a separate envelope.

So I sent the request letter back again with a hand-written note at the bottom basically apologizing that we had to be so picky but we were trying to meet the requirements of another government.

So today we did get a letter on company letterhead with Kevin's position, how long he's worked, his hourly wage and a 14-page document listing out his payroll for the entire year of 2009. (Yipes, I think a sentence stating the total would have been a lot easier.) Unfortunately, it's still not notarized. And, I got the trusty W-2 form returned once again.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Steven's First Annual Post-Adoption Report

When American citizens adopt a kiddo from Ukraine, they also agree to send reports annually to the Ukrainian Consulate concerning the well-being and progress of their adopted child. Though non-compliance with this request does not jeopardize a person's own adoption it does make a terrible strike against the future of adoptions in that country. With so, so, so many children in Ukraine residing in orphanages and institutions each needing a family of his/her own, we who have already adopted owe it to those left behind to comply in a timely manner. Besides what mama can resist the chance to show off her little darlings!!

Well, as hard as it is to believe, Steven came home on July 3, 2009--so completing the "Annual report on adopted child from Ukraine" has been on my to-do list recently. Sunday afternoon I was occupied with filling out a government report for one of our other chickies who receives survivor's benefits. But Monday I began officially working on Stevo's report. The report requires 8-10 recent photos--well, I selected and printed off 28!! Then Tuesday I filled out the biographical information, medical information, personality development, new accomplishments, eating/sleeping patterns, likes and dislikes, interaction with immediate family and acceptance by extended family portions. I have never been a person who could be satisfied with a 3 or 4 word answer so nearly all of these questions took me quite awhile. Finally today I got it copied and mailed off to San Francisco. Feels good.Here is the first picture I took of Steven in his group back in December of 2008.
Steven as "Fireman" on 2/5/2010
Steven's artwork and "name" on 2/7/2010Caleb and Steven with their Rainbow shirts and pinewood derby cars on 2/13/2010
Steven as Buzz with Buzz 4/2/2010Steven with Easter eggs 4/3/2010Our family on Easter Sunday 4/4/2010
Steven modeling Mommy's Reece's Rainbow shirt for the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VI 4-21-2010
Steven with sunglasses 4/25/2010

Steven kissing Mommy on Mother's Day 5/9/2010

Dressed up for the end-of-the-year program 5/14/2010

Rock Creek Canyon 6/9/2010--kids were 5, 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15 on that particular day. (Now that everyone has had their birthday they are 6, 6, 12, 14, 14, 16)

Steven on the 4th of July

Steven and Caleb with their Ukraine shirts in our yard 7/8/2010

Caleb and Steven fresh from the bathtub 7/10/2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Little Paperwork Update

Just to let you know, I did finally pass my last required test AND as far as I can tell, the new medical forms I got from my doctor are correct. Kevin's physical had to be re-scheduled for Monday the 12th. I think the forms are only good for 6 months and I believe I've heard several people adopting from Abby's country mention the need to get them filled out again before the process is complete. I just figure once they've been done correctly it shouldn't be difficult to get them updated. For those unfamiliar with the adoption process, these medical forms are really not very complicated, they just have to be filled out EXACTLY right--nothing can be crossed out on the page, abbreviated dates need to be in the dd-mm-yy format, the dates of the doctor's signature and the notary's signature must match exactly, preferably they need to be written on company letterhead or at least have the office stamp on them, they must be signed by a MD etc.

Alice and Kris, I just want to thank you for your comments. I enjoy them very much.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TODAY :) :)

Today one of my contributions to our adoption of Abby was to take and fail (again) the test for my last required on-line education course. Good grief, this is embarrassing. All 5 of the other tests I got a 100% on the first try. Each time I try THIS exam, however, I only get an automated response that one or more of my answers is incorrect--the problem is I don't know WHICH ONE!!

The other major accomplishment was to print off two more copies of both required medical forms and take them to my doctor's office. When I explained to the gal at the front desk why I was there, she smiled and said the doctor was pretty sure she'd have to do them over because somehow they got coffee spilled on them. Apparently they'd tried to get hold of me on Friday but couldn't for some reason. (Oh, maybe because I was up in the South Hills where there is zilcho reception.)

How am I feeling today? I'm sorry and ashamed to say that my main emotion is fear. I'm worried because we need quite a bit of money (I think about $5000) within the next few weeks and I just cannot think of any clever ideas for fund-raising. I'm afraid because Abby will be 9 next month and I've always done better with preschoolers. I'm afraid she won't like me. I'm afraid of bonding problems. I'm concerned because when I look at her picture I see a beautiful young lady but I don't have an overwhelming maternal feeling toward her. (To be fair, I really didn't have a strong emotional tie to Steven's photo either and I love him dearly now so I know this isn't a make-or-break issue) I'm still uneasy about Kevin's job. When business is slow, he doesn't get all of the hours he needs. (Though Praise the Lord, he has had some better weeks lately. Thanks to everyone who has been praying.)

The Bible verse that comes to mind is "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee." I love that the verse doesn't start with a condemning sermon about why as a Christian I should never be fearful. It just accepts the sad fact that I am afraid and lets me know what to do about it. I am so thankful that our awesome God remains firmly in control and rightfully enthroned in spite of my changing, fickle feelings.

I am also feeling hopeful.

Home Study Visit #2--July 5

Monday afternoon, July 5 was our second home-study visit. Dixie had kind of a rough draft of our home study already written up and had high-lighted parts for which she needed to collect more information. The home study for a Hague country is much more detailed than the previous ones we have completed. She collected the documents we've been gathering (pay stubs, 2009 tax forms, vital records, Older Child Survey, kids and pets immunizations, my physical exam results, motivation to adopt, etc); asked more questions about such things as our childhood homes, discipline, our life/work histories since high school (30 years ago!) and the story of how Kevin and I met. She looked at our kids' posters of Abby's homeland. I was excited when she said she's hoping to have the home-study done in two weeks so it can be sent to About A Child for review.

Friday, July 2, 2010

{Retro Post} Adoption Training in Boise --June 19

Family Training for our home study agency--A New Beginning--was June 19 in Boise. Actually we were told it started Friday evening (18th) at 6 pm and with considerable effort, Kevin got done with work, all of us got packed and loaded in the car, we got to the motel, left kids with babysitter, got to the ANB office and found out that the Friday evening class had been canceled. Apparently we didn't get the memo. Well, we didn't waste the time but used it to shop for Billy's birthday present.
We all ate at a nearby Mexican restaurant after we got back to the motel.
Friday evening after our 9 am to 4 pm classes, we took our family to Red Lobster for supper. Several were pretty impressed with the lobsters moving around in the tank.

{Retro Post} Caleb's Well-Child Check June 16

For both Caleb and Steven, betting a pair of gloves from the doctor is a way bigger treat than a bag of cookies.

{Retro Post} James goes to church camp--June 14-18