Saturday, August 21, 2010

Books and Backpacks

As I shared before, we now own 8 backpacks... 5 for our kids-to-be. Everywhere I go I see stuff for our kids. I am resisting buying because it is so hard when you don't know their ages, boy/girl, or even how many kids. (We are planning for 2 siblings but are willing to consider a sibling group up to 4.) From the time that we know who are kids are we will have about 2 weeks before going to Ethiopia for court and then another 2-6 weeks before the final trip to go pick them up. So this will leave plenty of time for me to go into planning over drive. Oh Josh hasn't seen nothing yet! Look out!

One thing I had been hoping to acquire at some point was children's books. I look forward to us reading with them all the time. A few months ago we fell into learning that our nieces and nephew love story time before bed. I'm not sure what prompted us but one night of babysitting, we offered them that if they wanted to get ready for bed early we would do an extra long story time with them. We gave them the choice and they jumped at it. So I am looking forward to the same special time with our kids.

Yesterday Josh's parents gave us a gift. I pealed off the wrapping paper and right away I saw that it was the back of a book where they list all the other books in the series. I could see that it was the Berenstain Bears. I love those books and I just know that our kids will love them too. I was telling a friend at work about this and she so generously offered me some books that her daughter has out grown.

We have enjoyed so much support. The books are great but the love that comes with them is even better.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I feel like I owe an update as I know so many people were praying for us and that our home study visit from the social worker this past Tuesday would go well.

The social worker came to our house after work and did her thing. She was perfectly nice and I know she was just doing her job. But after 4.5 hours I was exhausted! I felt very under a microscope, exposed. I know that the point of this whole process is to protect the children. And I know that when you become a parent, your life becomes about your children. But that doesn't stop me from having feelings of my own. It is so difficult for me to admit that I was discouraged because I would never want to discourage anyone else from adopting.

After weeks of preparing documents for the home study, a weekend of adoption classes, a full evening of home study visit, and knowing that we still have the dossier documents to go... I am exhausted. I know in my mind that I still want to adopt. I have wanted do so for 13 years. But this process will definitely test your resolve.

Once we complete the home study (which is mostly in the social worker's hands now, except for a few more minor documents that we need to do) and complete the dossier (about 10-14 documents, they go to the Ethiopian government explaining why they should consider us for adoption) which we are just starting, then we go on the wait list. I would say about 1-2 months before we get ourselves on the wait list.

So the process continues...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Feeding the monster

Josh has been feeding the monster in me.

The other day I decided that I need to buy backpacks while they are on sale. The idea was that I would bring them with us to Ethiopia so that our kids could have them for carry-ons for the flight home and so that they could just carry around whatever is precious to them on all the other days. I thought that in the midst of so much change and so many unknowns, having a few things that are important to them near by at all times might serve as a sort of security blanket for them.

I also decided I should buy school supplies while they are on sale just in case we bring home school age kids before the end of this school year. I talked with my sister-in-law and asked her to send me a list of what she suggests considering we won't know our kids ages for a while.

So off to WalMart I went. I bought tons of glue sticks. According to my sister-in-law, kids just love gluing stuff together. I bought crayons, markers, folders, paper, pencils, etc, etc. But then came the backpacks. Do I buy girl backpacks or boy backpacks? Do I buy little ones (for preschoolers) or regular ones? After a VERY long time debating, I bought 2 neutral regular size ones and 1 little one.

I came home, with $80 of school supplies in tow (and 2 mini etch-a-sketches for our kids to have for the plane ride home), and told Josh my dilemma as to what backpacks to buy. His answer: Buy one for every possibility and we will just donate what we don't use. So now we own 5 backpacks. (In addition to the 3 that we already own for ourselves. My school backpack. His laptop backpack. And our backpack for summer outings in the sun that stays stocked with sunscreen and such.)

Josh really should know better than to feed this monster in me!

Becoming one of them

For years I have listened to women who would talk endlessly about their kids. I would think to myself "you do know that there is an entire world out there that has nothing to do with your kids". And now... I have become one of them! Here I am going on and on about kids we don't even have yet as if there was nothing else at all going on around me.

So I apologize. Adoption has long been a passion of mine. And now, as we move forward towards that day, I fear that I will get more and more obnoxious with every day. I already think about it constantly. With everything we do, I think "what will it be like the first time we do this with our kids". With every kid I see, I think "soon my kids will be home". As I look around my house, I think "that will be a good place for our first family photo and we will need to add shelves to this closet to fit more kiddy clothes and this glass coffee table probably won't be a good idea anymore if we have a toddler".

The otherday I was at Costco and saw the cutest snuggly kids' pjs for winter time. Oh how I wished that I knew who are kids are so that I could pick out their pjs. As a very poor substitute I resigned myself to slowly touching every stack of them as I passed by. I think I've lost my mind... but then again maybe its always been gone...

Time to clean!

We have finished the majority of our paperwork. (I showed you the list of questions in that prior post). This Tuesday the social worker is coming for her visit. It is common that people think the social worker visit is just about making sure our house is good enough. That is actually just a tiny part of it. Sure, she will take a quick look around to make sure that our home is adequate but not much more than that. The primary reason for her visit is to talk with us and make sure we are prepared and really know what we are getting into. Naturally they don't want us freaking out first thing when we get our kids home.

After the home study visit we need to complete our dossier. This is all the legal paperwork that goes to the Ethiopian government. They will review our dossier and decide if they are willing to let us adopt from their country. Once this is complete we then go on the waiting list. This is the scary part for me because I don't wait well.

So while the social worker visit on Tuesday is not about how clean our house is, we have some MAJOR cleaning to do! For the past 8 weeks I have been at school 2 nights a week and doing homework the rest of the week. That in addition to summer fun has not left much time for cleaning and our house is a pit! Besides, I have to take advantage of the excuse to give Josh extra chores to do. :) He has already swept the garage, did a little weeding, emptied the vacuum cleaner, and done tons of laundry. And its just after noon! Maybe I should arrange for the social worker to come every week...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Home sweet home

Home sweet home. We are home after a whirlwind weekend of adoption classes, baseball games, and my grandma's 90th birthday party. We drive 5 hours to get home and what is the first thing we do? Drop our stuff as we walk in the door and turn on our computers!

Our adoption classes were good but for every question they answered I thought of 3 more. It was a little overwhelming. I think if any parent was forced to think about all of parenting prior to conception they would be overwhelmed too. And here we are, planning to go from just the two of us to four of us and the little ones will be walking and talking already expecting us to know what we are doing. It is the 'expecting us to know what we are doing' part that makes me nervous. Thankfully we have some time between now and then as we have alot more research and planning to do.

How did the naming thing go? Not so great. It turns out that 25,000 names means AT LEAST 20,000 ridiculous names. We'll keep working on that.

Well this is finals week for me so I probably won't be writting much between now and Thursday night as I really have no time left for procrastination. Well, except for tonight that is.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baby Names

A few weeks ago I was reading the blog of a woman who adopted from Ethiopia. She mentioned that they picked out their kids' names a year prior to ever knowing them. Immediately I decided that was something that I wanted to do. It makes sense. Pregnant women get to name their babies before they ever meet them. I want to be able to pray for them by name. Now you might be wonder, if we adopt older kids who already know their given name, what about that name? Its pretty common for people to pick a name and give that to their adopted child as their middle name or move their given name to middle and give them a new first name. The idea is that they still get to keep their identity but also have a more common name that they can choose to use here in the states.

I picked out two names. One boy name and one name that has a girl and a boy version. I think we will either end up with two boys or a boy and a girl but it seems unlikely that we will adopt two girls. You see there are more requests for girls. I heard once that the theory is that women often are the one in the family driving the desire to adopt and often they want a girl to round out their family. We don't really care boy or girl so it seems unlikely that we would end up with two girls. Back to the naming. So I picked out two names but Josh didn't love them so I asked him to pick out a couple. For days I asked him if he had any names yet. Finally he told me that he needs a book of names to look at. Ask and you shall receive!

I was on the hunt for a baby name book. My coworkers told me that you can often find little mini-magazine versions near the checkout at the grocery store. I looked at a few places and didn't find anything. So I looked at WalMart. Sure enough they had one. They seem to have one of everything. The name of the book.... one hundred THOUSAND baby names!!! Jippers! I bought it because it is the only one I found but just looking at it made me sick to my stomach. It was easily the size of my textbooks. So I decided to try Barnes and Noble to see what they might have. This time only twenty five thousand baby names. Still alot but much better. So I bought that one and will return the other one.

This weekend we have a 4.5 hour drive over the mountains and then back again. That is 9 hours in which I will have a captive audience. I am resolved that we will have names picked out before we return on Sunday!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good practice

Adopting from Russia has become very difficult. Our agency is no longer accepting applications for Russia. So it seems that Ethiopia is going to be our place. With that I have been doing alot of thinking about what it would be to have children of a different race; the questions people might have for us; and the questions that our kids might have for us. I confess that I find myself spying around me, looking for multi-racial families. I'm not sure I really know why or what I am looking for.

This weekend my nephew decided to give me a little sneak preview of this. We were at the water park with his family and his grandparents. The big boys were off doing the speed slides while the girls were watching. My nephew and I were sitting down. I had him all wrapped up in a big towel as he had gotten cold. We were just sitting when I noticed something catch his eye. There were two older African American kids with particularly dark skin headed into the wave pool. Thankfully they were at least 40ft away when he stated very matter-of-factly "they're black". Well that caught me off guard. Uhhhhhh... I didn't want to be all "oh honey we don't talk about that" and trying to explain that they should be called African American... well it just didn't seem to fit when I knew that to him he was just talking about color, like he finds in his crayon box, nothing more, nothing less. So I said "yup"... brilliant, I know. Well that was immediately followed by "why?". I should have answered with what my Mom used to tell me, that God loves variety and so he used different colors when he made us. No, I replied "because their parents are and so they are too". About halfway through that sentence I thought "oh that's going to create confusion for him in about a year when we adopt, nice going".

Yes, nieces and nephews are good practice. I love that little guy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Making Progress

Weww! I completed my autobiography (12 pages) and we are 99% done with our parenting resource plan (15 pages) and Josh is about 80% done on his autobiography. Boy am I going to be glad when this part is done!

So do you want to know what questions are included in these? I don't share this to scare anyone. Quite the opposite. But it is a very real reality check.


1. Parents
1. a. Describe each of your parents, stepparents, guardians or any others directly involved in your upbringing. Include your relationship with them individually, past and present.
1. b. How were you disciplined? What impact did it have on your childhood? Do you feel it affects your role as a parent now (if applicable)?
1. c. Did you ever feel rejected or threatened by your parents? Describe any experiences in your childhood that felt overwhelming or traumatizing to you.
1. d. As much as you recall, describe how early separations from your parents were handled. Were you ever apart from your parents for any amount of time that felt significant to you?
1. e. Did anyone besides your parents take care of you in childhood? What was that relationship like for you?
1. f. How did your parents communicate with you when you were happy and excited? How did your parents communicate with you when you were distressed, discouraged or unhappy?
1. g. Describe your parents’ financial and work situations.
1. h. Describe your parents’ relationships and conflict resolution styles. Are your parents currently together or divorced/ never married/apart?
1. i. What did you learn from your parents about marriage and commitment? Would you say you generally have parented (or want to parent) in ways similar to how you were raised, or do you plan to do anything differently?
1. j. What were your parents’ attitudes on education?
1. k. Were you raised in a religion or spiritual belief? If so, what denomination or religious practice?
1. l. If applicable, what religious faith or spiritual belief do you currently participate in? How important is it to you?
1. m. What values did your parents pass on to you?

2. Brothers and Sisters
2. a. What is the birth order of your siblings, and what are their current ages in relation to yours?
2. b. Describe your relationships with your brothers and sisters, past and present.

3. Yourself
3. a. Describe your education in high school and beyond. Include any degrees or diplomas you received, and what areas you received them in.
3. b. Briefly describe activities you regularly enjoyed as a child, adolescent and teenager.
3. c. Did you have any positive relationships with people other than your parents that you could depend on during any difficult times?
3. d. List a brief history of employment and military service (job title, description, and satisfaction and length of time in the position). A resume may be submitted in lieu of the above.
3. e. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Do you have behavior patterns you would like to change, but have difficulty doing so?
3. f. How do you usually handle problems, stresses or difficulties in the workplace and at home?
3. g. How have you dealt with separation and loss? (Please give an example.)
3. h. What impact do you think your childhood has had on you as an adult? Do you find yourself trying to behave or not to behave in certain ways because of what happened to you as a child?
3. i. Describe your personal goals. How do you see yourself? Is there anything you would like to change your self-image? Is there anything you would like to change about how you relate to others?
3. j. List hobbies, interests and community activities you enjoy as an individual.
3. k. Describe your support network. How much contact does your family have with relatives or friends?
3. l. If your family knows you plan to adopt, how do they feel about it?
3. m. Do you have friends, neighbors or family members who have adopted?

4. Previous Marriages/Partnerships/Relationships
4. a. List the dates of any previous marriage(s) or partnership(s).
4. b. Describe the marriage(s)/partnership(s) and the reason for its/their termination.
4. c. What did you learn from this relationship? How is your current marriage different than the previous one(s)?
d. If you have children from a previous marriage or relationship, what are your child support obligations? Where do your children currently reside and what contact do you have with them?

5. Courtship and Marriage/Partnership
5. a. Where and how did you meet your partner, and what attracted you to him or her?
5. b. How would you describe your role within your current relationship?
5. c. Give an example of your problem solving process with your partner.
5. d. Describe your partner’s strengths and weaknesses.
5. e. How has your relationship changed over the years?
5. f. How much is your marriage like your parents’ marriage? How much is your spouse like your own mother or father?

6. Others in the Home
6. a. If you have children, briefly describe them, including ages, physical description, personality, attitude toward school (if applicable) and activities they participate in or enjoy.
6. b. If you have children, what activities do you enjoy as a family?
6. c. Are there others besides your partner and children who share your home? (If so, include the person’s name, occupation, length of stay, role in the family, financial contributions to the household and his or her feelings about your adoption plan).
6. d. Describe a typical week day and weekend day in your home.

7. Family Health
7. a. Do you have any current medical problems? If so, how do you manage them?
7. b. Are you currently using any medication? If yes, what type? What are the reasons for the medication?
7. c. Have you ever been hospitalized for any physical or mental health needs? If so, please describe.
7. d. Have you ever sought counseling? If yes, describe when this was, circumstances, length of counseling and feelings about this experience. Did you receive any medications as a result?

8. Other
8. a. Do you keep firearms or weapons in your home or on the premise? If so, what safety precautions have you taken?
8. b. Are there any arrests, criminal records or histories of domestic violence or child or substance abuse in your background? (All arrests or convictions that have been expunged must be disclosed. USCIS will have access to these records through the FBI check.) If you have any doubts about past police contact, please fully disclose this information to your WACAP counselor. Failure to disclose this information may result in denial of your adoption application.
8. c. Have you ever been the subject of an unfavorable homestudy or been rejected as an adoptive applicant?


Motivation to Adopt

1. Please describe how you came to the decision to adopt (include information regarding infertility or any other medical condition, if applicable).

2. Describe an incident or anecdote in your life that illustrates why you want to parent a child (or another child).

3. What programs/countries interest you? Why?

4. Do you have any specific concerns about the adoption process or social and health issues of the children in the programs/countries you are considering?

Adoption Process

5. What issues do you feel are important to discuss with your child in regard to his/her adoption?

6. If it were possible, would you be comfortable with contact with your child’s birth parents, siblings or significant childcare providers, such as orphanage workers, foster parents, etc.? Please describe your comfort level and why.


Parenting Preparation

1. Please discuss your parenting and/or other childcare experiences.

2. What education or training, if any, do you have in child development?

3. What forms of discipline have you used, or do you plan to use?

4. If you already have children in your family, how will the adoption of another child impact them?

5. What are your attitudes regarding the use of family and individual counseling to work on personal or family issues?



1. How much time off work will each applicant take when the child comes home? Be very specific. If you have a flexible work schedule, describe in detail the time you will have to care for your child and how you will manage your child while working from home.

2. Do you have other demands on your time, such as caring for the special needs of children already in your home or family members (such as elderly parents) or coping with possible out-of-town travel requirements for work?

3. What is your back-up plan if your child is not ready to enter daycare/school when you are scheduled to return to work?

4. Specify your financial resources to cover extended time off from work.

5. Who lives close enough to you to be available for support?

6. If you are adopting a preschooler, what are your community resources for preschool-age children who are behind in their movement skills, speech and/or social skills? Do you know how to enroll your child in your local Early Intervention Program?

7. What are your resources to meet the daycare needs of a child with developmental and behavioral issues? Where would you go if your long-term daycare provider turned down your child as too aggressive, difficult or just different? What if full-time daycare is not possible for your child?

8. Describe your health insurance coverage. Is your child covered from the date of placement (not adoption)? What percent of care is covered? (Paying even 20% of a very large bill can be difficult for most families.)

8. a) What is the extent of your mental health coverage?

8. b) Many children come home with severe dental needs due to neglect. How will you pay for this care if it is needed? Do you have dental insurance?

9. Birth mothers of children we place for adoption may have used drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy. This information is most often not known at the time of placement. Describe your understanding of the major effects of drug and alcohol use during pregnancy and your ability to meet the needs of a child with this background.

9. a) What are the major effects of drug use during pregnancy? What resources do you have to meet these needs?

9. b) What are the major effects of alcohol use during pregnancy? What resources do you have to meet these needs?

10. A history of sexual abuse or molestation is often unknown at the time of placement. Even children in institutions can experience this. Describe your understanding of the major effects of sexual molestation on a developing child.

10. a) What resources does your community offer to help a child recover from this experience?

10. b) How would you respond to the knowledge that your child had been molested? How would you handle the effects of this experience with other children in your home and extended family members?

10. c) Discovering that a new child has been molesting children already in the home is often the most difficult situation for a family. How would you handle this event?

11. For families adopting children age 1 to 3, please describe at least five ways that early abuse, neglect and institutionalization can affect the personality and development of a young child.

11. a) Even young children may show some signs of abuse, neglect or institutionalization when they come home. Describe at least two specific ways you will parent your child to develop trust and attachment—methods that you are not using with your current children. What if after six to 12 months your child appears still unattached?

11. b) How will you deal with a child who may tantrum for an hour or more, perhaps several times a times a day?

11. c) How will you deal with a child who rejects you?

11. d) How will you deal with a child who never wants you to be out of sight?

12. Many children, most of who have never slept alone, have great difficulty sleeping through the night in their new homes. Please describe two ways that you might help your child, and you, get a good night's sleep.

SECTION B - All families adopting a child of a different race or culture than their own are asked to complete this section.

1. List adoption support groups in your area that can assist you in dealing with adoption issues and maintaining your child’s cultural/ethnic heritage:

2. List local cultural activities appropriate for the child you are planning to adopt:

3. If appropriate, list the language/translation services available in your area for the child you are planning to adopt:

4. If your child is of school age, please describe the ESL (English as a Second Language) services available in your school district. Who have you spoken to at the school district?

5. How diverse is your community, school system, place of worship, circle of friends and extended and immediate family? If you don’t currently have adults in your life of the race and culture of the child you plan to adopt, what steps will you take to add diversity to your life?

6. Please describe your understanding of what it means to be a racial minority in your community and in your family.

7. Please describe how you would handle the following circumstances:

7. a) At a family holiday dinner, discussion turns to an enthusiastic, affirming conversation about the physical traits that everyone in your family (except your child) shares.

7. b) Your child is asked, “Is that your mother?”

7. c) If applicable, your adopted child’s sibling is asked, “Is he/she your brother/sister?”

7. d) Friends (and even strangers) constantly comment on your child’s beautiful eyes, hair, skin color—physical characteristics that make them different than you.

7. e) Your teen comes home and says he and his friend were asked to leave a store but other white teenagers were not.

SECTION C - Anyone open to adopting a child with a specific physical condition/disability is asked to complete this section. If you have not yet identified a child but are open to specific health and/or developmental conditions, please answer #1 and #2 below.

1. We are open to these physical issues:

2. Do you have any personal/professional experience with these issues? If not, why are you interested in adopting a child with these issues?

If you have identified a child:

3. List any local specialized clinics that treat your child’s identified medical, developmental or emotional problem, including local counseling resources.

4. Consult with medical professionals and describe how many clinic/doctor/therapy visits children with this disability typically need each month. How many surgeries? What is the length of stay in the hospital and recuperation time at home?

5. After consulting with medical professionals, do you know of any other issues associated with this disability that do not become obvious until later in life?

6. How might this disability affect your child’s self esteem and sense of belonging as he or she grows into adulthood, and how will you help your child with these concerns?

7. Please describe how you will meet the time demands of your child’s possible medical care, including how you will get time off from work. How much support is available from your spouse, extended family members and friends? Please be as specific as possible, identifying by name those available to you for support.

8. Based on your discussions with medical professionals, identify the type of daycare setting that best meets the needs of a child with this condition. Is full-time daycare possible for this child? Would a daycare have to cope with any particular ongoing medical needs? Might a daycare turn down this child as too difficult? What is your plan if your chosen daycare is unable to provide care?

9. What special services will your local school district need to provide? Does your local district offer all these services? Have you spoken to your local district yet?

10. Based on your discussions with medical professionals, describe what might be the worst possible outcome for a child with the physical or developmental issues that you are considering.

11. What are your resources for meeting this worst case outcome?

SECTION D - Please complete this section if you are adopting a child age 3 or older. In our experience, children of this age will require resources outside of the immediate family. These questions are not solely based on “worst case” situations, but on issues that arise in many of the children placed at older ages in adoptive homes.

1. Why do you want to adopt a child age 3 or older?

2. Do you have any experience, skills or special training regarding children who have experienced abuse (including sexual abuse), neglect and/or out-of-home care? If so, what have you learned about the type of parenting these children need?

3. If you do not have such experience, what steps will you take to educate yourself?

4. Many older children show at least one of the following reactions when they join a new family. Please consider how you will help a child who has one or more of these behaviors. How will you parent a child who may:

4. a) Have several hour-long tantrums each day?

4. b) Be physically or sexually aggressive to others, including your children and pets?

4. c) Reject you, show no desire to be part of your family and want to return to previous caregivers, even after six to 12 months in your home?

4. d) Be clingy, whiny, not let you out of sight and demand constant attention so that you have no time for your other children and are exhausted?

4. e) Give you little affection or cooperation, despite all your efforts, even after six to 12 months in your home?

4. f) Be disliked or even feared by your other children because of the disruption he or she causes in your home? This is often a cause of major questioning about the wisdom of the placement. How will you handle the stress with your other children?

4. g) Be much more behind developmentally than you expected and most likely never catch up to his or her peers?

5. Identify the nearest support/advocacy/information group for your child’s developmental or emotional issues. List three contacts with this group and what you have learned.

6. Identify any local specialized clinics that treat your child’s identified developmental or emotional problem, including local counseling resources. List the name of a counselor or an agency that is affordable to you and can provide counseling in your child’s language. If counseling is not available in your child’s language, can the translation services you listed in section B be available to attend counseling?

7. What might be some of the long-standing concerns associated with early abuse and neglect for your child as a teen and young adult? How will you help your child if they have difficulties becoming a self-sufficient adult?

8. Please describe how your family will meet the time demands of your child’s possible emotional and/or developmental issues, such as attending multiple school conferences, picking up your child mid-day after a fight at school, making it to counselor appointments, etc?

9. What type of daycare setting best meets the needs of a child with emotional or developmental needs? Is full-time daycare even possible for this child? What is your plan if your daycare turns down your child as too difficult due to ongoing behaviors such as aggressiveness, ADD, sexual advances, refusal to cooperate or a maturity level too low to participate in the program?

10. Is a regular classroom setting best suited for your child, who perhaps has not been to school before or has issues with ADD, impulsivity, compliance and aggression? What other school settings does your district offer and what is the procedure for accessing them? What is an IEP?

11. What typical recreational/outdoor activities does your family enjoy together? Are there family activities you typically enjoy that your child will not be able to participate in due to perhaps ADD, fearfulness, oppositional behavior or impulsivity (ignoring safety rules)?

12. Please describe what might be the worst possible outcome for a child with the emotional or developmental issues typical of children who have spent considerable time without a family.

13. What are your family’s resources to deal with this worst possible outcome?

Statement Regarding the Children I / We are Willing to Consider for Adoption - Please include your thoughts on considering a child with a special physical or emotional or developmental need. If you are only interested in adopting a child with no presenting health, medical or developmental disabilities, please state this in your own words. A family wishing a child with no special needs will not be approved for children age three and older since all older children have risk factors in their history which can lead to special emotional or developmental needs.