I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. I Samuel 1:27

Sunday, July 30, 2006

On Vacation

Ok - maybe not a real vacation. I'm vacationing in downtown Louisville. (for those of you who don't know - that's about 30 miles from our house)

Jay goes to various conferences throughout the summer. I usually go to one of them with him and we turn it into a mini-vacation.

One year we went to San Francisco and then rented a car, drove to Reno through wine country and spent a few days in Reno/Lake Tahoe. One year it was in Little Rock. We just drove there and saw parts of the country between Kentucky and Arkansas. Last year, we went to a conference in Mobile, and then drove to Biloxi and spent a long weekend. (this was about 3 weeks before Hurricane Katrina - the entire area where we stayed was leveled)

This year, the conference is in Louisville. We are staying downtown. I decided I'd rather do that than have to drive to home and back each day. Monday and Tuesday I'll get to sleep in and then just walk to work. It's a little weird to be "on vacation" in your home town, but so far so good.

I tell you - I haven't been to lots of these conferences, but the Kentucky folks have done a great job. This is an amazing conference, the next year's hosts will have a hard time toping this.

No updates this past week. Alex should be going in for his 3 month appointment this week. Hopefully we will get some pictures.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

India Journal - Part 4

June 10th

We had our trip to the Taj. They said it was a 3 hour drive, but it took us 5 hours! There were a number of "small" towns along the way. I thought the city was bad. The poverty was a little overwhelming. And, there are always people everywhere. Even on the "highway" you have cars (large and small), trucks, motor scooters, bikes, taxis (scooter with more room to sit), buses, rickshaws, bicycle carts, carts being pulled by cattle or horses/donkeys and people walking. And - you never know when a cow will be on the road.

We stopped for lunch. There was a family that were manning the toilets. A mom and her 3-4 year old son showed me into the bathroom. The little boy was so cute. He was excited to get me a roll of toilet paper. He grabbed one roll and his mother scolded him and he got me a roll that had more paper on it. They also helped me wash my hands and dry them. As I was coming out of the stall, mom was playing and hugging on her son. The love between the two was quite evident. I gave them 10 rs which is about 30 cents. DP told me later he would have only given 5 rs. I didn't have anything smaller than a 10 - but 30 cents is nothing - and he thought I should have given 15 cents.

There was then a man and his son (I think they were related to my bathroom buddies) who were putting on a show. I can't imagine what kind of life they have.

(editor's note - Here are some pictures from that part of the trip - I wrote a lot this day, so I'll include more in another post)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Update - Sort Of

We found out this week that we haven't gotten out of Family Court yet. I wonder if I can send our Social Work in Guatemala a new pen to get that report written? :) We are still within the "norm" for length in Family Court, so I certainly can't complain yet.

I was sort of hoping we'd be in PGN by August, and it could still happen, but now I think I'm going to say that I hope we are in PGN by the time we go visit. (by the way - 30 days until I get to see Alex!!)

My Hubby

Ok - since Jay never reads this blog - I get to talk about him.

Jay and I met in college in the marching band. He was the first guy I "saw" at college and I thought he was cute. After a couple of months of getting to know him and hanging out (as all us band geeks did) our friend Joa basically told him that if he didn't ask me out, she would beat him up. (and she could have!!)

Jay and I started dating at the end of October 1990 (geesh! am I really that old???) and that was pretty much it. I knew after a few months that this was the guy I was gong to spend the rest of my life with. We got married in June of '95 in a wonderful wedding. (that I would do ALL over again - my mom and I didn't even have one fight!)

Most people don't "get" Jay. In many ways he is the exact opposite of me - but in others ways we are exactly the same. He is very introverted, shy, uncomfortable around people he doesn't know, doesn't outwardly show much emotion, etc. He balances me pretty well.

Most of my friends think I'm very spoiled, and I have to agree with them. Jay takes such great care of me. From cooking, to cleaning, to making me laugh (every day!). I can't imagine being with anyone else. He's my best friend!

Ok - now I'm crying (yeah - Jay's not outwardly emotional - but I am). Now I'm looking forward to getting to know him as a dad. :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

You have a Referral - Now What?

Once you accept your referral, you have to make sure that all of your documents are pulled together. At the time we received Alex' referral (ok people - no one has helped me with the proper way to write Alex' or Alex's - come on - someone knows!!) we had our dossier done, but we hadn't received our I171-H yet. Amazingly it came just before we accepted our referral. We then had to sign a Power of Attorney that allows the attorney in Guatemala to process our adoption on our behalf. (and it had to be notarized, county clerk certified, secretary of state certified and Guatemalan consulate authenticated!)

At the same time, our entire dossier was sent to Guatemala where it had to get translated into Spanish. It takes a couple of weeks for the POA to get done and to Guat and to get the dossier translated.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Just Waiting

Well - we are still just waiting....and I don't even think we've started the big waiting yet.

We are waiting to hear if we are out of Family Court yet. Once we are, we can get submitted to PGN. I'm hoping we hear something this week.

I don't expect a medical update until the end of next week at the earliest....it's getting hard to wait.

There has been some movement in PGN over the past couple of days - but still not enough. There is a couple that is adopting from our agency (Hi Melinda!!) who has been in PGN since May and they haven't heard anything yet. The wait gets so hard. (I haven't even gotten to the real waiting!!!!)

Also - I figured out how to moderate the comments on the blog. If you leave a comment, I have to approve it before it gets posted. This is a good thing as I denied a couple of posts from this morning of someone else trying to slam my blog. :)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

India Journal - Part 3

June 9th (evening)

I should still be in the office, but I'm not feeling well. I tried to hide it, but the Patni folks caught on very quickly! I'm glad I'm back in the hotel early. I think a good night's sleep is all I need.

Today we went to Rajghat which is where Mahatma Gandhi's cremation took place. It is a beautiful monument to him. We then saw Qutb Minar which is the world's highest single tower. We didn't go in, but it was quite impressive. We then went to the Baha'i Temple. It's in the shape of a lotus and was amazing. It was well worth it.

I forgot to write before that we saw a wedding ceremony last night. It was the groom on a horse with the band and lights all around. I'm go glad I was able to see it. It was quite a sight!

Tomorrow we are off to Agra to go to the Taj. I can't wait!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Waiting for a Referral

Different agencies have different rules. For some, you have to have your dossier all done and your I171-H received - some you just have to one or the other, some you don't have to have either. Our agency required us to have the dossier all done before we could be put on "the list."

Some people request a specific gender - and for families that do request - they almost always request a boy. Jay and I decided to not request a specific gender, so we were pretty sure that we would end up with a boy.

We sent our dossier to Jeannie and she received it on a Monday. She was going to review it and make sure everything was there and we didn't make any mistakes - then it was off to A Helping Hand to get us on the list. I thought we might get on the list by Friday of that week.

Jeannie called me on a Wednesday and told me that we were "on the list." We found out at that time that we were third on the list - but the two families in front of us were both waiting for girls. So, the next boy that was born would be our referral. But - if three girls were born, we'd end up with a girl. At this point, I told my mom that I thought we should have our referral by the end of May. You can never predict how long you will wait for a referral.

Thursday morning I went to the chiropractor and got to work in just enough time to drop my stuff off and go to a meeting. I came back from my meeting and noticed that I had a number of missed calls and I had a message. I checked my messages and it was Jeannie asking me to call her as soon as I could. I thought, "Oh great, they found something wrong with our dossier."

I called the office and Marie answered. I asked for Jeannie and I wondered what was up - Marie sounded so happy. (Not that she doesn't always sound happy when she answers the phone - just something was different)

Jeannie asked me if she could put me on speaker phone. Something told me I had better close the door to my office. She said, "we have your referral." I must have screamed - I don't remember doing that - but Greg (whose office is right next to me) sent me an email wanting to make sure everything was ok.

Jeannie sent me Alex's (ok - someone help me here - is it Alex' or Alex's - I need to figure this out as I have a feeling I'll be writing his name a lot!) picture - I cried - and laughed - and I think screamed some more. I just couldn't believe it. I called Jay immediately.

We then had up to 5 days to accept the referral. We sent his pictures and the medical information we received to our International Adoption Pediatrician for her to look everything over. There were some initial concerns that there might be something wrong with one of his arms. It was hard to tell from the photos, so we asked to have some new photos with his shirt off to help us make a determination. Jay and I didn't want to tell anyone unless we were sure that we were going to accept the referral. We talked about it, and decided that even if there was something wrong, we would still accept the referral.

We started calling people and I shared with folks at work. I was so excited, I could hardly stand it. Needless to say, I didn't get much done at work that day. :)

We're Visiting!!

It's official - Jay and I are going to visit Alex. I'm very excited!!!!!!!!

We are leaving on the 25th of August (my birthday!!) and returning on the 29th. We should be getting there early enough on Friday to get him on my birthday.

Big thanks to Ken and Nancy for letting us use their frequent flyer miles. Their son, Jeff, traveled a lot for work (to Mexico). He had racked up a ton of frequent flyer miles. Unfortunately, Jeff passed away last fall unexpectedly. They let us use some of his miles for this visit trip. We are very grateful to them, as this helps A LOT with the finances.

I also brought home two BIG bags of clothes that my girlfriend Nikki gave me from her son who is a little over a year old. I think I can fit them all in the suitcase. :) I do know that I can't buy any more clothes. There won't be room.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Homestudy

Boy - there has been nothing in this process that caused me more angst than the word homestudy. The idea that someone I don't know would look through all of our paperwork - look at the answers to all of those questions - look through our financial statements - look at our house - and make a decision about whether or not we would be allowed to be parents - scared the crap out of me!! I really did have a lot of anxiety. I didn't sleep well during that whole process.

The homestudy with our agency had three parts. 1) Jay and I met together with Jeannie (our social worker) 2) Jay and I met separately with Jeannie 3) Marie came to our house to meet with us. #1 and #2 were at Mary Kendall's office in Owensboro.

The first thing that stressed me out was that we were basically paper ready for our homestudy in February. Because of the visits that we had to do, and they were done during the week, we had to wait to have our homestudy until Jay was done with session. This made me mad at first - but I soon realized that it just meant that our little guy wasn't going to be ready for us in March.

Jay and I went to Owensboro (about a 2 1/2 hour drive) one morning and met with Jeannie that afternoon. We soon (ok - maybe me - I don't think Jay was as stressed as I was) learned that Jeannie wasn't a mean, scary person!! (really Jeannie!!) The first meeting with her went really well. She went over lots of information with us on what our process would be like, she gave us a huge binder with lots of articles to read, and she asked us some questions. We then spent the night in Owensboro, and then went back the next morning for our individual meetings.

About a week later, Marie came out to our house. I was very stressed about this part also. I tell you, my house had never been that clean. I cleaned out closets (especially our closet - which was a mess - but really looked good this spring), underneath the sinks in the bathroom, corners, baseboards - you name it. I don't know why I was stressed so much. We gave Marie a tour of the house. She brought some more things for us to read, she asked us some questions, and we chatted for a bit. It was fine!! As she was leaving I kind of wanted to ask her if she wanted to come look at my closet and underneath the sink!! :)

Everyone I talked to before the homestudy told me to not worry about it - and I knew that deep down - but it was still stressful. I'm glad that part is over. I'm now not worried about the post-placement meetings. :)

Getting Slammed

Ok - It looks like someone is slamming my blog. I now have responses to all of my posts telling people to click on a link. I haven't clicked on it, but it doesn't look good. PLEASE don't click on any links in the comments of my posts. I don't know who this is, and I'm not sure why someone thinks it's a good idea to slam a blog about bringing my sweet baby home.

I've now made it so I have to approve all comments, so hopefully this will stop.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

We Have Pre-Approval!!!

So - as you learned from a previous post, I was bad and emailed the US Embassy in Guatemala to check on our Pre-Approval about a week earlier than I was supposed to.

I got the following email today from them.

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. H.,We are happy to let you know that we have issued your pre-approval on July03,06 and that your attorney has already picked it up. Your case should now be in or about to be filed in PGN. Regards, The Adoptions Unit paoU.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service "

YEAH!!! So they only took about a week and half to issue PA. That's really quick.

Some of you may be wondering why we didn't know about it. When the Embassy issues PA they are supposed to email the petitioners (Jay and I), our agency and our attorney. Sometimes they don't put the email address in correctly, or sometimes the email gets blocked as spam. As far as we know, our agency didn't get the email either. The good news is that either our attorney in Guatemala got the email, or they happened to be at the window and was able to pick it up.

Either way - this is good news. We are now just waiting to hear if we are out of Family Court. Once we are, then we get submitted to PGN. That's where the real wait begins. PGN used to take 4-6 weeks, but it's now averaging about 8-12 weeks. More hurry up and wait.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Our Crib Saga

I had no idea that getting a crib for Alex would be such an ordeal.

Wilda, who goes to our church, has a daughter who has 3 daughters. (ok that was kind of confusing) Wilda's daughter is getting ready to move, and didn't need her crib anymore. She told us that if we came and got it, we could have it. How could we turn that down? Free is the best price ever!

We got it home. It was still in good condition - not quite what I would have picked out - but remember - FREE. It sat in the basement for about a month. A couple of weeks ago I thought it might be a good idea if we tried to put it together to make sure that all of the parts were there and we could figure it out. Unfortunately, we (ok Jay) couldn't get it put together. Some of the screws were stripped and other stuff like that.

We resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to have to buy a new crib. I hadn't budgeted or planned for this, so for those of you who know me, it took me a couple days to work a new crib into my "plan." We looked at cribs at Babies R Us. (Jay and I there - looking at cribs and trying to register was an interesting task!) It was very overwhelming.

This past Saturday I had the bright idea to drive 90 miles to Seymour, Indiana to go to the Childcraft outlet store. Jay asked me if they were open, and I said, "of course." (for those of you who remember anything from their English class - this is called foreshadowing) We got in my car (because it has more room to hold the new crib we were going to buy) but my car needs it's airconditioning fix/recharged/kicked. It was HOT - high 90's 70ish% humidity. It wasn't quite India hot, but it was hot. (India has put lots of things into perspective for me). We get there, and realize that the lights didn't seem to be on in the store. There was a note on the door that said that there had been a death and that they were closed, and didn't know when they would reopen.

Oops!! We did some shopping at the other stores. (although if you've ever been to this outlet mall, it pretty much sucks) I bought a couple more onesies for Alex at the Gap, We bought Alex some toys at the KB Toys outlet, and Jay bought some new shirts, I got a purse, and we got some new luggage at the Bass outlet. Then it was back in the hot car for the 90 minute drive back. (did I mention that it was hot?)

On Monday afternoon (while the guys were setting up our internet access - have I mentioned lately how happy I am???) Jay started messing with the crib again. He told me that he wasn't going to let the crib beat him, and he was going to figure out a way to fix it. Sure enough, a trip to Lowes and some new screws, and the crib is in great shape. All I have to do now is give it a good cleaning. YEAH!!

Monday, July 17, 2006


Ok - I warned you I might be venting from time to time. Today is one of the days.

We are now on day 25 waiting for our Pre-Approval. We aren't supposed to contact the US Embassy until it's been 30 days. (I'll admit that I sent them an email last week....ssshhhh...don't tell anyone) I think I've been spoiled. Everything else in our process so far has happened sooner than I expected. I don't know why I thought it would go that way forever!

I'm trying not to check my email a thousand times a day - but I can't help myself. Hopefully we are out of Family Court, or will be soon. It would be nice to hear that good news this week even if we don't get PA.

Luckily, I guess, PA is a US thing. That means that next Monday, if we haven't heard anything, I'll get our Congressman involved. They have to answer the members of congress within 24 hours. I knew that our political connections would come in handy some day!

I just keep trying to remember a couple on the online message board I keep in contact with that has been waiting to bring their son home for almost 2 years now. (lots of problems - not something that we expect AT ALL with our process) The case went before the Guatemalan Supreme Court on Friday. They still haven't heard what happened, or what is going on. I can't imagine what they are going through! It makes my waiting for PA seem so trivial.


I updated the archiving for the blog. (I started to have too many posts on a page!)

If you want to see my first posts, use the archive links on the side of the page.

Since I did this - there are no pictures of Alex on the main page - so, let's fix that. This is from his 1 month update.

Also - I'm typing this from MY OWN COUCH!!! The high speed internet access works - and works with my work VPN. I'm SO happy right now.


I consider myself to be very organized (some may say anal - except when it comes to housework.....I need to analyze that at some point in time), I like to make lists, and I don't mind doing paperwork type stuff. (I love to check things off of a list) This adoption process stretched me to my limits.

There is paperwork for the homestudy and paperwork for the dossier. Some of the documents can be used for both.

For our homestudy we needed to have:

  • Birth Certificate - both of us
  • Marriage License
  • Copies of our medical insurance cards
  • Complete directions to our home
  • Copy of the first two pages of our most recent 1040 federal tax form
  • Photo Release Forms
  • Child Abuse/Neglect Index Form (allows a background check on us)
  • Kentucky State Police Conviction Report Form (allows a background check on us)
  • Administrative Office of the Courts Form (more background checks!)
  • A Recent Family photograph
  • Formal Application
  • Adoptive Parents questionnaire
  • Potential Adoptive Father questionnaire
  • Potential Adoptive Mother questionnaire
  • References

Most of the stuff wasn't too bad. The questionnaires were almost brutal (not really - but almost). We had to list all of our income, assets, and monthly expenses. (love to see that on paper!!) Here are some of the questions we had to answer: (and no - I'm not going to list our answers!!)

  • How would you describe your housekeeping standards (do they mean mine or Jay's? :)
  • Define your knowledge of child growth, development and/or your need to learn more in these areas
  • Define what is an effective parent vs an ineffective parent
  • Define and differentiate between discipline and punishment (one of my personal favorites)
  • Description of parents' personalities (be specific) and your relationship with them growing up and now.
  • Describe your marriage. What do you admire most about your spouse? What, if anything, would you change.

Here are the items we had to have for our dossier. All of these items had to be notarized, county clerk certified, Secretary of State certified and Guatemalan Consulate authenticated. It's a HUGE process, and any little error on a document means the entire document has to be redone. It's very stressful!

  • Certified Birth Certificates
  • Certified Marriage Certificate
  • Medical Reports (which includes a full physical, and tests for TB, Hep B, STDs and HIV)
  • Employment Verification
  • Two Witness Statements (these had to be people who knew us well enough to say that we would be good parents - but they couldn't know us too well!!)
  • Name Affidavit (a form that lists every possible way that our names could show up. Jay's was easy - mine was a HUGE list)
  • Police Clearance
  • Three Reference Letters
  • IRS Tax Filing
  • Copies of our Passport
  • Final Homestudy

It was a very happy day when I had it done.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Internet Access

As some of you know, Jay and I don't have internet access at home. Our only option has been satellite access and it's expensive, and still doesn't work with my security stuff for work. So, I've been holding out. I can hardly stand it any more, so we were going to look into getting something.

Friday, Jay called a company here that provides high speed internet access over radio waves. They claim to be able to get broadband speed, and that I'm going to be able to access my work network. They came out on Friday afternoon to install the equipment, but of course, a huge thunder/lightning/rain storm came up. They are coming back Monday afternoon.

Hopefully my next post will be from my own couch - not work/Kelly& Michelle's couch. (where I am right now - thanks guys!!) And yes, mom and dad, I think we should be able to get a web cam hooked up. (we all know everything is about Alex now)

India Journal Part 2

Here's my next journal entry from my business trip to India

June 9th (morning)

I was too tired to write last night! I slept really well the past two nights. The bed & pillows are amazing.

Dipankar (DP) and Ekta met us in the morning. We started out by going across the street to the Emporium. It's a government Emporium with wonderful things to purchase. They had everything and it's so big! We spent quite a bit of time there. I bought a few things, but want to go back. It's a little bit of a walk from the hotel (not bad) and I'm trying to decide if I'm going to go over there by myself on Sunday.

We then got in the car and went to India gate. It was hot! I started sweating the minute we stepped ouside to go shopping. I'm not sure if the clothes I brought are going to work! They are too thick and too dark. I hope my white capris will be ok for tomorrow.

From India gate we drove by the President's house. It was impressive. We then went to lunch. It was a wonderful little restaurant. I had DP order for me, and it was all delicious. They really went easy on me. The spices were wonderful, but not too strong. We then headed to Noida. The roads were just as crzy during the day as it was the night before. So many cars, so many people - just crazy. I can't figure out how the roads work. I've learned to not pay attention to where we are going or how our driver is driving.

I almost fell asleep in the car at this point. I had a full belly, it was hot, and we drove for awhille. I wasn't sure how I was going to make it. I can't evey describe everything I saw. Such poverty!! and then these amazing temples.

The Patni offices are nice. They are getting ready to move the Mercer folks into a new office soon. The traditional welcocme was really cool. We were greated with a wonderful necklace of fresh flowers. They smelled heavenly. We then lit this candle lamp thing.

We got to meet the team, had a cake cutting and did introductions. I then spent a couple of hours going through ePRISM with them. I didn't realize how late it was getting! I feel bad because we didn't take much of a break. It was really good, though. We then left the team to start working on some surveys.

We then went to dinner at a Thai restaurant. By this time it was 10:30pm I was so tired. On our way to the retaurant we were approached by a group of young children. One of the children was very handicapped. It looked like she didn't have any legs, and her one arm was severly deformed. They were a mess. So dirty, so thin.....of course DP told them to leave us alone in Hindi but it made me want to cry.

Dinner was wonderful but I was very glad to get back to the htel. I finally turned the light out at 12:30 am. I'm feeling pretty good this morning. Today is more sightseeing in the morning and then off to the office for more work.

So far my tummy is not upset with me, and hoping to keep it that way!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Cool Flow Chart

In an earlier post, I included a cool flow chart that showed the steps to adopting from Guatemala in easy terms with colors that showed where we are in the process.

I was SO pround of this, and thought it would help everyone - until I learned that you can't see it!!! (so much for being proud of myself)

I'm trying to figure out how to make it work. Once I do, I'll post an updated flow chart. :)

Not Adoption Related

Some of you know that I went to India in June on a business trip. It was amazing! I'm so glad I had an opportunity to go. I spent about 8 days total (travling and in the country) in New Delhi. I was there to meet and train a new group of employees that are going to be helping my team. We are excited about working with them, as we have too much to do, and our sales folks keep selling more work!! I did keep a journal while I was there, so I thought I'd share it with you guys. I have some pictures also.

June 7th/8th

I've arrived in Delhi after my 24 hours travling. I don't know how anyone would make that trip in coach. Business Class absolutely saved me. It was interesting flying on Air France. I've learned that I retained next to nothing of my french training. I had two scares. 1. In Paris, I went to baord the plane to Delhi and my boarding pass wasn't recognized. It took a couple minutes but they found me and let me baord the plane. 2. My bags were among the last bags to arrive in Delhi. Needless to say I was a little nervous! I was sweating waiting outside for the car at 11:00 at night. How am I going to handle the days? I'm so glad I got my haricut. R & B met me at the airport. They are both very nice and we had a nice conversation on the way to the hotel.

It was dark so I couldn't see much - but OH MY! I think I'm in for a rude awakening. The traffic was crazy. I saw big trucks (that drove very slow), big SUV type vehicles, tiny cars with lots of people shoved in, scooters, bikes, etc. Everyone goes where they want and honks their horns and flashes their lights. We drove down a street that had a variety of shops along the road. They were just closing up, and I've never seen any thing that looked that bad before. I did see a cow on the highway!

The hotel is beautiful! I have a nice big room. The room has very high ceilings. For $150 USD a night - it's amazing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Post - No Time

Ok - I have lots of ideas for great posts, but no time to do them. I've been so busy at work and since we don't have internet access at home, it makes it hard.

I sent a package today to go down to Alex. (and for those of you who were worried - no - Jay and I don't actually smell like fabric softener!) I think I sent too much, and I'm not sure if AHH will send it all down.

We are still waiting on Pre-Approval and to get out of Family Court. Hopefully we will hear something this week.

More later

(Ok Mom, is that better!!) :)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Adoption Process Step #2

Ok - so you've chosen an agency. There are a number of steps that happen next. (and they can be going on at the same time) I'm going to talk today about getting USCIS approval. Basically the federal government (used to be called CIS - now part of the Department of Homeland Security) has to approve adopted parents. They want to make sure that you aren't a criminal and that you have the financial means to take care of a child that you are bringing in from another country. There are various USCIS offices around the country, and each one handles their cases differently. From what I've heard, we are lucky that we use the Louisville office as they seem to make it fairly easy on PAPs (Here's an acronym for you - PAP - Prospective Adoptive Parents).

First you fill out a I600A form (which is different from the I600 form that you fill out later). This has some basic information on it - not too difficult to fill out. I then made an Infopass appointment for the office I needed to go to. Again - I was lucky since the office is only 2 1/2 blocks from where I work. I took our form (along with money - of course) to the office and turned it in. A lady - who didn't look very happy - (but I wouldn't have been either if I was forced to wear the uniform she was wearing! EEKK!) checked - stamped - typed - stamped some more - my information. She then gave me two pieces of paper - one for me and one for Jay for us to get fingerprinted. I thought I'd have to wait for a Wednesday to be fingerprinted (that's what I had read) but she told me to go down to the basement to get fingerprinted.

I go down there and the room was full. The folks behind the counter asked me if I had an appointment - I didn't - the lady had just sent me down there. They said I could wait if I wanted to - but it was better to have an appointment. I decided to wait. 40 minutes later I was called up and taken to be fingerprinted. (which I didn't think was bad for a government agency at lunch without an appointment) Everything is digital there - you don't even have to get your fingers dirty with that ink stuff. They were very nice and told me to just have Jay come in any day after 1:00.

Jay went a couple of days later and was in and out of there in 15 minutes.

Once our homestudy was completed, it was sent in also. They now had all of the information that they needed. We then waited for their approval which comes on an I171-H form. (Ok - I know that Jay works in government type things - but geesh! who comes up with the names for these forms! Shouldn't it be called the YEAH!! We approve you to be parents form?)

We got ours pretty quickly. I've heard of people having to wait months. (we waited about 3 weeks)

Shout Out! and Fabric Softener

Two topics for this post.

1. I want to give a "shout out" to my friend Kelly. He was quite upset to see that I hadn't mentioned him in the blog yet, so I wanted to make sure that he didn't feel left out. In fact, I'm sitting in his recliner in his house typing this since I mooch their wireless internet access all the time. (Hope this makes you feel better Kel!)

2. Ok - so Jay and I have been sleeping with a couple of receiving blankets for the past couple days to try to get them to smell like us before we send them down to Alex. I keep smelling them everyday, and I've realized that one of two things is true. Either a) my fabric softener is incredible (I use Bounce dryer sheets, by the way) or b) Jay and I actually smell like fabric softener. I can't seem to get the fabric softener smell out of them! Maybe we'll have Buddy (the dog) sleep with them - they are sure to smell like something other than fabric softener then!

Friday, July 07, 2006

More Pictures

Ok - I was going to wait to post more pictures until I talked about the process a little bit more - but I can't help myself. I think he is just beautiful!!

Here are a couple pictures from when he was about 1 month old.

Everyone always loves the one with the toy. I like the second one. I can just imagine him going "arrrghghgh" as he shows us his muscles! :) My mom is threatening to go down there now and just take him. I keep trying to tell her that it would be considered kidnapping, and she may not want to end up in a Guatemalan jail.

Here are some pictures from his 2 month appointment.

Doesn't he look so serious? Someone mentioned to me that maybe he's filling his diaper, but I'm going to believe that he's thinking some great and profound thoughts!!

The wait is hard, but we just have to continue to be patient and trust that God is taking care of our little one for us. Please continue to pray for Alex and his foster family. Also don't forget his birth mother (her name is Heidi). I can't imagine having to make the decision she did, and we will be forever grateful to her.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Picking an Agency

This, I've come to discover, is a very important step in the process. There are lots of agencies around the United States to choose from and you don't have to use an agency that is located in the state where you live.

Jay and I didn't do as much research as most people. This is an amazing thing for me. I research EVERYTHING!! (must be that library training!!) We were pulled to Mary Kendall Adoption Agency because they are associated with our church. What we didn't know was that they actual don't do their own Guatemalan placements. They have recently partnered with A Helping Hand for the placement part. We only deal with the folks at MK (Hi Jeannie and Marie) and we LOVE them. I ask a lot of questions, and I'm sure I drive them nuts. Even if they are muttering things about me under their breath, they never let it show to me.

I feel very fortunate so far with our choice. We've received great updates, and our process has actually moved quicker to this point than I expected. God was certainly looking out for us!

Here's another picture of Alex from just a couple day's old.

Why Does it Take So Long?

Here's the next big question I get asked all the time. When do you get to bring him home, and why does it take so long. As you can imagine, no country is going to just send their children off somewhere else without making sure that it's in the best interest of that child. Also, the US government doesn't want people bringing in a lot of children from other countries, if they can't afford to take care of them.

There are a lot of steps to any international adoption. I've become an expert on the "steps." (at least I think I am....and I'm going to just go on believing that!!) I am someone who wants to understand something very thoroughly if I'm going to be involved in it. I like to read everything I can get my hands on. (Just ask Jay - I think I drive him nuts!)

Below is a flow chart I created that shows the broad steps in the process and the order in which they need to be done. Any step that is in green we have finished. I plan on updating this chart on occasion so people know where we are in the process. I'll also have posts on the different steps to try to explain them in more detail. If you click on the picture, it will open up bigger in your browser. Then, hover your cursor over the picture and a little box will show up in the lower right hand corner. Click that box, and the picture will become bigger and easier to read.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why Guatemala?

And the next most asked question - why Guatemala? We looked at domestic adoption briefly. There were a couple of reasons why we ended up not choosing a domestic adoption.

1. The wait can be a couple of years if you are lucky. I didn't want to wait that long.
2. The birthmother is more likely to change her mind during a domestic adoption.
3. Most domestic adoptions these days are open adoptions. I have nothing against open adoptions - in fact, I really like the idea. What I had a hang up on was the fact that the birthmom chooses you from a book of prospective parents. What if we weren't chosen. Would a birthmom find us attractive enough? funny enough? smart enough? have the right kind of house? the right kind of friends, families, jobs.....I could go on and on!! I found myself getting a slight complex!

So - we decided on international - now - which country? Here are some of the reasons why we choose Guatemala.

1. I really liked the idea that we could bring home a baby under the age of one. It's not guaranteed (as is nothing during an international adoption) but the possibility is there.
2. The total time from signing with the agency to pickup trip has been running approximately 1 year.
3. The stay in country is only 3-5 days. (have to save those vacation and sick days to be home with my little guy)
4. Getting there doesn't take 3 airplanes, 2 layovers, over 24 hours without a shower, and long flights in coach.
5. Jay and live in a county with a large Hispanic population. We knew that unless we adopted from Russia, our child would not look like us. This way, when Alex goes to school, there will be other kids around him that will look like him.
6. We have some friends that have adopted from Guatemala and had a great experience.
7. And the kids are just TOO cute. (see yet another wonderful picture of Alex - also from about 3 days old)

Why Adoption?

We've been asked this question a couple of times. Here are my reasons for adoption. When Jay and I were first married, I had a colleague who was going through infertility treatments. I watched as the drugs took over her body, how she turned into a different person and how her relationship with her husband suffered. I remember coming home from work one day and telling Jay that I never wanted to go through that. We said at the time that if we ever had problems conceiving we would adopt.

Fast forward 10 years. We were now having problems conceiving. My gynecologist wanted me to track my basal body temp and ovulation for two months and then come in for further testing. She said that she would probably start me on a low dose of medicine and have Jay tested. I plotted and charted for the two months, but I never made the follow up appointment. One day I asked Jay how far we would go with the treatments. How far would be enough or too much?

We decided to not pursue any infertility treatments, but to look into adoption more seriously. That was Christmas last year.

I can't begin to explain the weight that lifted off of my shoulders. I know that this was God's plan for us all along. I don't know exactly why yet, but it will come with time. I'm at complete peace with our decision, and we haven't looked back. I'm so glad that there are options like adoption available to couples like us. I'm so grateful to all of the birthmoms around the world who have made what has to be the most difficult decision of their lives.

Let's start at the very beginning.....

Ok - maybe not at the VERY beginning. But here's to my first blog! I finally feel like one of the cool people. Jay and I started our journey in January to adopt our first child. We've made it through a couple of the steps, but still have a long way to go.

I'll try to get everyone up to date on our progress in the next couple of days. I think plan on posting pictures as we get them along with any updates.

Thanks to everyone for their support as we go on this journey.

Here's a picture of Alex from when he was 3 days old. This was one of the first pictures we saw of him.