Friday, February 26, 2010

Quick Update

Today, I reviewed our 19-page International Adoption Contract, initialing the bottom of each page. I also signed and/or initialed a Client Agreement, a Statement of Understanding & Acknowledgement, and a Post-Adoption Reporting Agreement. I began our Certificate of Financial Status. I am also taking the forms needed for the Certificate of Physical Examination and the Doctor Medical Reference to our doctor's office for review by our appointments on March 12. Additionally, I'm dropping of a copy of Shaling's medical report.

A status update on the Home Study:
• 17-page Autobiographical Questionnaire (Amy – 1/31/10, Brock - 2/21/10)
• Fingerprinting for State Police & FBI (Amy – 2/2/10, Brock - hopefully tomorrow)
• Submit an Authorization for Background Check to DCFS (submitted 2-10-10)
• Certified Birth Certificates (Amy – 1/29/10, Preston – 2/4/10, Brock – 2/12/10)
• Certificate of General Physical Examination for Adoption Applicant (Appointments March 12)
• Doctor Medical Reference (Appointments March 12)
• Certificate of Financial Status
• Job Description, Plus Annual Salary (Done)
• Proof of Life Insurance
• Proof of Marriage (and Divorce if applicable) (Done)
• Snapshot of Home & Family
• Financial Statement & Support
• Military Discharge (Not Applicable)
• Affirmation Statement (Done)
• Guardianship Statement (Done)
• Adoption Home Study Agreement (Done)
• Criminal Arrest Statement (Done)
• Post-Adoption Reporting Agreement (Done)
• Criminal Arrest Statement (Done)
• 6 Character Reference Letters (5 received as of 2/26/10)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Home Study Progress

Checked a few more items off of our "to do" list for the Home Study today.

We collected notarized letters that serve as proof of employment, plus job title, annual salary, life insurance and all medical benefit information.

After work, I will be going to collect notarized police clearance letters from the Springfield Police Department.

I have submitted my fingerprints to the state police and FBI. Brock hopes to do so this weekend.

We have currently received five of the required six character reference letters.

We've already completed or acquired:
Home Study Application
Proof of Marriage
Birth Certificates (Brock, Amy, & Preston)
Autobiographies (Brock & Amy)
Guardianship Statement
Adoption Home Study Agreement
Criminal Arrest Statement (Brock & Amy)
Acknowledge Receipt of the Fee Schedule
Acknowledge Receipt of the Complaint Policy

We still need to obtain:
Copy of Last 3 Years Federal Tax Returns
Medical Report (Brock, Amy, & Preston)
Doctor Medical Reference (Brock, Amy, & Preston)
Proof of Life Insurance (the insurance we have NOT through our employer)
Snapshot of Our Home
Snapshot of Our Family
Financial Statement
Support for Financial Statement
Affirmation Statement

Again, that is all just for the Home Study. It does not include other forms we are currently preparing for the Adoption Agency, nor the items required for the dossier we must prepare for China.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quick Update

Brock finished his autobiography over the weekend. He has arranged his personal interview with our Home Study representative for March 6 at the Panera in Bloomington. My autobiography and interview were both completed the last weekend of January.

We are hoping he will be able to submit his fingerprints (for the state police & FBI) this Saturday, February 27. There were only three very specific dates that Accurate Biometrics was available IN Springfield to do this during February. I got mine done on February 2 and he planned to do his on February 9, but when he arrived at the facility that day, they had a sign on the door that they weren't there due to all of the snowfall.

Our actual expenses thus far:
$200.00 - Application Fee (normally $500, but in January, it was temporarily reduced)
$18.30 - Overnight the application so we could lock Shaling in
$21.00 - 4 certified copies of Amy's birth certificate
$60.00 - Amy's fingerprints (FBI & State Police)
$17.00 - 2 certified copies of Preston's birth certificate
$34.00 - 3 certified copies of Brock's birth certificate
$101.10 - Brock's passport application ($1.10 for a money order at the U.S.P.S.)
$100.00 - Amy's passport application (at the Circuit Clerk)

Plus, Brock will be taking a $2050.00 check to cover the Home Study to his personal interview on March 6. It's just the tip of the iceberg for our expenses, but there's a sense of relief of having those expenses paid off without borrowing. We have several friends and family members to thank already for contributing towards that. Plus, we began siphoning away some funds as soon as we made the decision to do this.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We've settled on a name!

Years before I met Brock, I had decided I wanted to name my first son Levi Preston, after my Grandpa Preston Barkley and my Grandpa Robert H. Levi. While pregnant with him, I ultimately decided to reverse the order of the names and make him Preston Levi, but I was always solid with those names.

Before we discovered we were having a boy, we tossed around girls' names, but never came to an agreement on any. He liked the name Centira and I liked more traditional names.

Through our conversations with people who have adopted from China, we discovered that usually the child's Chinese name is bumped to be a middle name so they can retain their heritage, but they are given an American first name. Supposedly most Chinese kids adopted by American parents like this, as it allows them to blend in a bit more easily.

So, we considered such names as Dina Shaling, Annie Shaling, Mary Shaling, Julia Shaling, Faith Shaling, Grace Shaling, Lily Shaling, Jillian Shaling, Lillian Shaling, and Valerie Shaling.

Dina is short for Bernadine, the name of my great grandmother. Annie was a great aunt of mine with whom I was very close. Brock liked the names Faith and Grace. I liked Julia, Mary, Lily, Jillian, and Lillian. Valerie was a name researched by a student of mine as being similar in heritage to Shaling.

According to that student, Shaling supposedly means "sand chime" or "sand bell". I like that and considering she is 8-years-old (and will be 9 this October, shortly after we get her), I also tossed around the idea of keeping that as her first name and giving her an American middle name. Giving her my middle name, Marie, was an option. I also considered Brock's Grandma Reynolds' maiden name, Storm, as a middle name. I liked the middle name Rose, a name selected by Shaling's future Uncle Scott and Aunt Barbara in the case they ever had a daughter.

Ultimately, we decided to let her keep Shaling as her first name, due to her older age. She's going to have so much new stuff to learn already. If she decides she wants to use her middle name instead, she'll have that choice, but won't feel pressured to do so.

Upon adoption, our daughter will be named Shaling Annabelle Reynolds. I think it sounds beautiful. It also has some family heritage. Annabelle is a great aunt of Brock's that is a sweet lady with a strong sense of family. She is the sister of Brock's Grandma Reynolds. I never met his Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds, as they were both deceased before I met him. Annabelle is a fantastic, warm-hearted connection to that generation of the family.

We can't wait to meet Shaling Annabelle and bring her home to meet her new family.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Autobiography questions

I thought some of our family and friends might be interested in the questions contained in the lengthy autobiography Brock and I have to each complete. I'm not sure either of us wish to share all of our personal answers, but here are the questions:


1. What are your motivations for adoption?

2. What kind of child do you hope to adopt (age, gender, handicap, racial background, etc.)?

3. If applicable, what is your reason(s) for wanting to adopt from a particular country?

4. Who initiated the idea of adoption and why? What is the length of time you have considered adoption?

5. What do you understand about the risks and responsibilities you would be undertaking?

6. How do you plan to help your child understand about her background, country, culture and the reasons she was placed for adoption?

7. What abilities and experiences have you had to help you cope with your child's adjustment throughout early and later years, including teenage years, dating and marriage?

8. What experiences have you had with people of different backgrounds?

9. What kind of relationship do you expect to have with your adopted child and how comfortable do you think you will be in relating to your child and why?

10. Can you accept meaningful relationships that the child might have developed from the past...including the relationships with her biological family?

11. How do you feel you would cope with a child if she does not respond to, nor return, affection?

12. Can you accept a child different in looks, skin tone and personality from yourself? What about special physical, educational and talent development?

13. What is the attitude regarding a foreign adopted child in your neighborhood?

14. Are you aware of the problems your child might encounter educationally, socially and emotionally at school or out in the community, and how can you foresee helping your child with these problems?

15. If your child does not speak English, how do you plan to communicate?

16. When you do have difficult situations arise, do you have people to share problems with, and where will you seek help if necessary?

17. Do you have any involvement with an adoptive parents' group?

18. How open are extended family members to your adoption of a foreign child?

19. Has your child living at home been exposed to children from other cultures and who look or behave differently from your family? Please give examples

20. Does your child accept the idea of having a sibling who looks or acts differently from them?

21. Is your child willing to share parents and possessions with a new child?


Your full name:
Date of birth:
Eye color:
Hair color:

Your father's full name:
Your father's age:
Your father's ethnic descent:
Your father's occupation/career:
Your father's health:
If deceased, please list date and cause of death:

Your mother's full name:
Your mother's age:
Your mother's ethnic descent:
Your mother's occupation/career:
Your mother's health:
If deceased, please list date and cause of death:

Where do your parents live now?

Please list your siblings in chronological order (Name, Date of birth, Number of children, Name of spouse):

Where do your siblings live now?

How often do you see your immediate family?

What are your parents' daily activities/hobbies?


1. What were your feelings toward your parents as you grew up?

2. Describe your relationship with your siblings as you grew up?

3. What was it like growing up in your family? How was discipline handled? Where did you live?

4. Discuss any special childhood and adolescent memories, including difficulties and days your family faced, plus the religious training you received.

5. Describe the frequency and amount of use of alcohol/drugs in your parents' home when you were growing up and in your home today.

6. Describe how you see yourself.

7. Describe how others see you.

8. Discuss three of the strengths you like most in yourself.

9. Discuss three of the weaknesses you dislike most in yourself.

10. Describe, in chronological order, your educational, employment and/or military history. Include your feelings about your employment and your level of job satisfaction and stability.

11. What are your hobbies or special interests? Organizational affiliations?

12. What do you regard as your greatest personal achievement to date?

13. What do you regard as your greatest personal failure to date?

14. What are your personal goals in life?


1. How and when did you meet your spouse? Please list the length of dating period, length of engagement, date of present marriage and length of present marriage.

2. Describe your spouse and your relationship with your spouse.

3. Highlight the strong points of your marriage.

4. What areas would you like to see strengthened?

5. How are the responsibilities within the marriage divided, and how do you define your and your spouse's "role" in your marriage?

6. Do you feel comfortable discussing close personal feelings with your spouse? If not, why not, and how are negative feelings expressed in your marriage?

7. Describe ways your spouse is supportive of you or backs you up.

8. Describe your last fight and how you resolved do you confront one another?

9. How do you make decisions individually and as a couple?

10. What recreational and leisure activities, including hobbies do you pursue with your spouse? Your entire family? Include organizational affiliations you belong to as a couple or family.

11. If applicable, what are your feelings toward your own and/or your spouse's previous marital partner, and what, if any, difficulties are these presenting to your present marriage relationship?

12. If applicable, what kind of relationship do you have with any of your children residing outside your home? Do you have any relationships with children outside your home that are not your own children?

13. What is your current relationship with your parents, siblings and in-laws?


1. Summarize your planned approach (or if applicable, present approach) to parenting.

2. Describe your planned (or present) approach to discipline.

3. What are your expectations for your children on a daily basis regarding chores, obedience, values, activities and responsibilities?

4. What skills do you believe you possess to parent a child?

5. What skills do you believe your spouse has to parent a child?

6. How would you describe your capacity and experiences with fairness, consistency, firmness, flexibility and humor?

7. What are you willing to do to gain parenting skills?

8. What experiences have you had with children?

9. What is your daily childcare plan? If you go out in the evening, what is your plan for childcare?

10. Describe your perception of family life with children.

11. How do you view family fun and enjoyment? What kinds of activities does this include?


1. State your present employment and annual salary. How long have you had this position?

2. Describe and name the plans of your medical, dental, and life insurance coverage.

3. Describe your financial ability to support another family member, including adoption costs, special educational, medical or counseling needs of your adopted child.


1. Please list the following about your home: style, number and types of rooms, square footage, date it was built, size of lot, sleeping, playing and study quarters for adopted child, what yard is like (fenced-in, etc.)?

2. Location of home (whether city, suburb or rural) and describe the community (population, tell why it is a good community to raise a family, population and ethnic make-up, etc.)?

3. Description of neighborhood including ethnic composition of neighborhood.

4. Availability of educational, recreational and medical facilities.

5. Pets and animals in the home.


1. What is your religious preference?

2. How do you plan for your child's religious education?

3. Discuss your concept of religious living and how it affects family life.

4. What are your views regarding philosophical, ethical and spiritual values and their place in raising children.


1. Do you have any past or current medical or mental health problems? Describe any counseling you have had. Do you believe these concerns will impact your ability to care for a child?

2. Are there any medical or mental problems with any children in your home?

3. What is the reason and your feelings related to childlessness?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We are now in the middle of preparing forms for our Adoption Agency, preparing forms for our Home Study, and preparing forms for a dossier to be sent to the Chinese government. An outline of some of the paperwork and actions we have to take is listed below:

1. Family Information Sheet (completed 1-15-2010)
Includes brief biographical information about both Brock & Amy, financial information, list of children at home, specific child we want to adopt, explanation of why would be good parents, how we plan to nurture her

2. Application (all parts completed 1-18-2010)
• Application for International Adoption (2 pages)
• China Waiting Child Referral Agreement
• Statement of Understanding & Acknowledgement
• Application for China Special Needs Adoption (2 pages)
• Adoption Special Needs Questionnaire (2 pages)
• Net Worth Statement
• Passport style photos
• Current family photos
• Rehabilitation & Nurture Plan

3. “Locked-In” (completed 1-20-2010)
Our adoption agency locks her in so no other family can adopt her.

4. Pre-Approval Letter (completed 1-26-2010)
Form letter sent to our adoption agency stating that China has approved us to adopt this particular child. We will receive a copy.

5. Apply for Passports

6. Home Study
• 17-page Autobiographical Questionnaire (Amy – 1/31/10, Brock-)
• Fingerprinting for State Police & FBI (Amy – 2/2/10, Brock- )
• Submit an Authorization for Background Check to DCFS (submitted 2-10-10)
• Certified Birth Certificates (Amy – 1/29/10, Preston – 2/4/10, Brock – 2/12/10)
• Certificate of General Physical Examination for Adoption Applicant
• Doctor Medical Reference
• Certificate of Financial Status
• Job Description, Plus Annual Salary
• Proof of Life Insurance
• Proof of Marriage (and Divorce if applicable)
• Snapshot of Home & Family
• Financial Statement & Support
• Military Discharge
• Affirmation Statement
• Guardianship Statement
• Adoption Home Study Agreement
• Criminal Arrest Statement
• Post-Adoption Reporting Agreement
• Criminal Arrest Statement
• 6 Character Reference Letters (3 received as of 2/12/10)

7. International Adoption Contract

8. Adoption Consultant/Client Agreement

9. China Waiting Child Referral/Statement of Understanding & Acknowledgement

10. Dossier
• Inter-Country Adoption Application Letter
• Home Study Report
• Certified Birth Certificates
• Certified Marriage Certificate
• Divorce Decree (from previous marriage, if applicable)
• Medical Examination (both)
• Certificate of Financial Status
• Police Clearance (both)
• Employment Verification Letter (both)
• USCIS Approval Letter
• Passport Copy (both)
• Passport Photos (both)
• Photo Pages Reflecting Family Life (at least 6 color photos of family & home, affixed to letter-size paper and with captions)
• Post Adoption Agreement
• Inter-Agency Agreement

11. Hague Regulations
• U.S. Immigration Approval
o Submit I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country
o Submit Supplement 1, Listing of Adult Member of the Household
o Receive an Approval Notice
o Might receive a Request for Evidence; if so, submit it
o Submit I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative
• The United States recently signed off on an agreement with 50 other countries in regards to international adoptions. We must have 10 hours EACH of parent preparation and education.
• On-line training courses
• Attend adoption seminars/workshops
• Read 3 books (each) and submit a “Book Report” form for each.
• Submit a list of resources available in the community.

12. Conduct Fundraisers
• Sell coupon books
• Conduct trivia night
• Sell stuff on eBay

13. Apply for Grants

14. Log-In Date

15. Letter of Seeking Confirmation from Adopter Acceptance
We sign it and return it.

16. Notice of Traveling to China for Adoption

17. Travel Approval Notice
Arrange visa appointment with U.S. Consulate-Guangzhou

18. I-864W, Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support Exemption

19. Travel to China
Arrive 10 days prior to scheduled Consulate appointment

20. Gotcha Day
We will meet her the day following our arrival.

21. Adoption Day
The adoption is official the day following Gotcha Day!

22. Go to Guangzhou
She will have a medical exam and TB test at Guangzhou Medical Clinic. All inoculations recommended by the CDC will also be given at this time.

23. Visa Appointment
• Her immigrant visa and Hague Adoption Certificate will be issued
• Oath-taking ceremony the day following (Guangzhou)

24. Arrive Home
2 days after Consulate appointment.

25. Post-Adoption
• Reports due 6 & 12 months after returning home
• Re-Adoption: with an adoption decree from a U.S. legal authority, she can get a U.S. issued birth certificate

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

After finding out that the original sheet did not put a hold on Shaling for us, Brock and I spent our entire Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday working on the "Application for International Adoption" for Madison Adoption Associates.

Items we had to complete included:
  • biographical information for each of us
  • employment information for each of us
  • our income information (China requires $10,000 annual income per person in the household)
  • biographical information for Preston
  • whether we had been turned down for adoption
  • whether we had been arrested
  • our Home Study agency
  • our adoption preferences
  • a Statement of Understanding & Acknowledgement
  • whether we understood Shaling's medical needs
  • an Application for China Special Needs Adoption
  • an Adoption Special Needs Questionnaire
  • a Net Worth Statement, with lists of our Assets & Liabilities (China requires a net worth of $80,000 or more)
  • a letter explaining our plans, abilities, resources, and financial capabilites to provide for Shaling's needs
  • passport style photos of Amy & Brock
  • some recent family photos of all three of us

We found a lot of it to be redundant. We realized later that we hadn't begun to understand the meaning of redundancy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Initial paperwork

The first item we completed was a "Family Information Sheet"; a form that was supposed to "lock" Shaling in (basically prevent other families from adopting her as we go through the process). The sheet included biographical information on me and Brock, our employment and financial information (including net worth, assets & liabilities), and information about Preston. We also had to describe how we were a good fit for Shaling and how we planned to rehabilitate and nurture her.

We were able to fill out and submit the form electronically, but received a quick response that Shaling was a "dual-agency" child. This means that more than one agency was trying to get her adopted, so she couldn't be locked in until we completed and submitted an "Application for International Adoption". I'll write more on that later.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In His Hands Orphans, a local orphan outreach group, is assisting us on our journey. They have provided coupon books with over $2200 in savings at various local businesses to us. We are selling them for $20, with $10 going towards their efforts to build an orphanage that specializes in getting children born with cleft palates the healing that they need. The remaining $10 will eventually be sent to our adoption agency to be applied to our fees.

If you are interested, a list of most of the businesses with coupons in the book is pictured in my previous post.

Coupon Book Businesses

How we embarked on this journey

Brock and I have considered adoption off & on for probably 5 or 6 years, and in fact, briefly pursued the idea of adopting a baby that was to be born to a teenage mother. We also offered our home to a couple of local young children whose mother had died, but they went to live with out of town family members.

In early January, we heard about a 12-year-old girl from the Philippines who had been adopted, but things weren't working out between her and her new family, so the adoption agency was on the hunt for a new home. We inquired about getting her, but we were told we weren't good candidates, because we had never had a Home Study. They wanted to place her quickly.

However, our inquiry led to a phone call from a local adoption outreach group, In His Hands Orphans. We were asked if we would consider taking an 8-year-old girl from China that had minor medical health issues. We agreed to do so.

Initially we thought her name was Catherine, because that was at the top of her file. However, we quickly came to realize that no, her name was Shaling, and she had no idea that anyone associated the name Catherine with her. It was simply an American name put on her adoption placement file.

Shaling's health issue is rickets in her thighs, which is weak bone structure, usually due to a Vitamin D deficiency. After receiving advice from a doctor friend, we are optimistic that the condition is reversible. We plan to get her immediate medical care and ease her into a well-balanced diet with plenty of Vitamin D and calcium.

So, here we are!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thank yous

I just wanted to say thank you to Michelle and Darcy of ewebsmart for providing this page for us to keep family & friends updated on our adoption progress. We really appreciate their efforts and generosity.

Thanks also to all of our friends who have bought coupon books from us and/or given us donations as we have begun fundraising towards our adoption costs.

Most of all, thanks to everyone who has provided us emotional encouragement on this. I don't want to start naming names for fear I'll leave someone out, but it has meant the world to us to have such a large portion of our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers express enthusiasm for making Shaling a part of the Reynolds family.


Thanks for coming to our site to learn more about Shaling! We are so excited about this process and look forward to sharing updates with you. Be sure to check out the different pages on this site so you can find out more about Shaling and the adoption process.