Sunday, March 28, 2010

The three of us landed safely in Florida yesterday afternoon. Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds picked us up at the airport in Punta Gorda (a bit further of a drive from the usual airport we fly into in Fort Myers) and we stopped at an Applebee's in Fort Myers for a LATE lunch on the way home. The weather was GORGEOUS, though that's supposed to change today.

Right next to their computer, Grandma has placed an enlarged (5X7) picture of the little head shot we have of Shaling. I've thought several times how things might be different when we come down next year. Hopefully, Shaling will be able to get in the pool with Preston. She might experience her first boat ride. I hope she enjoys it as much as we do. Plus, the weather down here is much more in line with what she is used to in Shenzhen City.

Well, we're leaving for church in a bit. God bless all who continue to follow us on our journey.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Home Study Not As Close To Finished As I Thought

We had our final interview/home study visit last night. It went very well. Brock and I both enjoyed the conversation.

However, I found out that our book reports, internet-based training, and seminar training all has to be completed as part of the Home Study. In my organizational notes (you can see those in one of my earliests posts on this blog), I had all of those items written down as part of the Hague requirements (an international agreement the United States entered into with 50 other countries, starting in late 2009).

I collected another character reference letter last night as well and received the forms in the mail that our doctor hadn't quite completed. Brock is taking them to the doctor's office over lunch. Also, the adoption agency hasn't yet received Brock's state police clearance. He submitted his fingerprints almost 4 weeks later than I did, so I'm sure the clearance is forthcoming.

We also finally met Lynne, who is Guanghui's future mother! She seems so enthusiastic. We hope to go to dinner with her and her husband Joe some time when we get back from Florida, so that we can get to know them better.

Speaking of Florida, we leave Saturday morning for our annual trip to visit Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds in Marco Island. I'm not sure if I'll be posting while we're there or not. So, if you see several days pass without an update, don't give up on us...I'll jump right back in when we return Easter weekend.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shaling & Guanghui

As those of you who've been following our adventure from the beginning might remember, there is another couple in the Rochester area adopting a 9-year-old boy (Guanghui) from the exact same welfare district in China.

I inquired a few weeks ago about the size of the welfare district and the possibility that they might know each other. It turns out that the school age children are in foster home type of settings, eight kids per house. I almost cried this afternoon when we were informed that Shaling and Guanghui are in the same like brother and sister.

How awesome that they will have each other for emotional support as they make this monumental transition in their lives.

Preston's Interview & Glitch in the Paperwork

Our Home Study social worker called last night to tell us that our doctor missed a question at the bottom of the form he had to fill out for each of us. She's mailing the forms back to us so we can take them in to be completed. I am hoping they arrive before the end of the week so I can get it fixed before we leave for Florida.

Brock finished his first book on adoption and is getting ready to do his first book report.

Preston completed his interview with our social worker (via phone) last night. He answered basic questions about himself such as his name, his age, his school, what he liked to do for fun, etc. He also had to share his feelings on having a sister. Brock and I were not home at the time (there was a babysitter with Preston), so we're both feeling very curious about the conversation.

However, the social worker indicated that Preston was very poised and comfortable. She was very impressed by him. Preston seemed very happy this morning when he was talking to his dad about the conversation. He seemed as if he enjoyed talking to her. He says he told her he's always wanted a brother or a sister and he can't wait to have one.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shaling's Sizes

Found this quote from an adoptive parent:

"I realized at the start that whether a child is biological or adopted, one does not know all the ingredients in the package. That is what growth is all about. A child is the slowest flower in the world, opening petal by petal, revealing the developing personality within."

We are filled with anticipation about watching Shaling blossom.

I got some updated size information today. If I've converted the measurements and shoe sizes correctly, she is roughly 48 inches tall and weighs 50 pounds. I'm hoping a clothing store will be able to help me guess fairly accurately on clothing sizes with that information. Her Chinese shoe size (34) is roughly the equivalent of size 4 here in the U.S.

It is my plan to take at least a few clothing items over to China with us, as I believe she mainly has shared items donated to the orphanage. Since the adoption completes the second day we're over there, she will spend the rest of the 10-14 days with us. It'd be nice for her to immediately have some clothing of her own.

If anyone reading the blog has a daughter close to Shaling's size and has some clothing size advice, I'll gladly take it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ok, I finally got the final two pieces of paperwork needed to finalized our Personal Financial Statement. It came to about 40 pages total. At lunch today, I mailed it, along with the medical documentation (physicals and medical release letters on all three of us), to our home study representative.

Now, we just need to have our final visit and the home study portion of our paperwork will be complete.

Next on the agenda is to finish up the other requirements for Madison Adoption Associates. These are things like 20 hours of adoption & parenting training, book reports (we EACH have to do three), and more.

We are still waiting to hear when our informal classes to learn Chinese will begin.

We are also looking forward to my mom and Aunt Ann coming up sometime to help decorate Shaling's room.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No update today. I could use some help though. I've got about 15 of the $20 coupon books of savings in the Springfield area left. If anyone thinks they could sell 2 or 3 in their office, please let me know!

Monday, March 15, 2010

More on the trivia night

I believe we're about to receive a donation of 4 tickets to a Cardinal game for the silent auction.

Also, I'm starting to amass some door prizes. Some discount cards good at local businesses and some hats from so far.

I now have an out-of-town friend (Fairfield, IL) reviewing my questions for me.

My church ladies guild is donating baked goods and perhaps some 2-liters of soda. Some of my relatives are also donating baked goods.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Well, my passport arrived yesterday, so we have both of those. Also, I obtained copies of physicals on all 3 of us, plus medical clearance letters on all 3 of us yesterday. Brock and I had to have blood drawn, but thankfully Preston did not. I've got a pretty bruise and three marks to show for it, as I had to get stuck three times (by three different people) before they were able to successfully obtain enough blood for the test. I'm a horrible blood draw patient.

Our coupon book sales have become stagnant, but I did sell a couple more this week. That brings us to 79. I still have 15 to sell, so if anyone is interested, or thinks they may be able to sell a couple at their office for me, please let me know. They're $20 and they have tons of savings at local businesses.

As far as the home study goes, I still need 2 more of the character reference letters I requested, plus we're waiting on this month's car loan bills in order to complete our Financial Statement. We need one more visit, which we may be able to complete over the phone. Preston will have to be interviewed this time as well.

Thanks to all who continue following our journey via this website. We love and appreciate all of our encouragers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brock's passport arrived in the mail yesterday. We also received a statement of how much we still owe on our mortgage. Thanks to Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds, we also received paperwork in regards to the farm land in Brock & his brother's name. As soon as we receive this month's car bills, displaying how much we still owe on our vehicles, we should be able to complete our Personal Financial Statement.

I do still have two character reference letters to collect. I sent some questions in to the adoption agency last week, trying to obtain further information about Shaling. The questions were forwarded to the China contact, but I have not yet received a response.

Brock visited the Rochester library to try and check out some books for our book reports, but they didn't really have anything to do with adoption. We'll visit the Springfield library soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brock's meeting with our Home Study counselor went well. He delivered a nearly inch thick folder of paperwork to her. We still need to have our medical appointments this Friday.

Plus, we began the required Personal Financial Statement last night. What a nightmare. I can't believe how strict it is on proof for every single asset and liability. I caused myself some unnecessary grief when I started comparing our monthly spending with our monthly income. I couldn't figure out how we were outspending ourselves so significantly. Then it dawned on me that I forgot to double our paychecks (I had us living on half of what we actually make). Oops.

We are waiting for two more character reference letters as well.

Once we get all of that paperwork in, the Home Study portion should be complete. We've also been working on items (separate from the home study) for the adoption agency. Some were submitted last week. Now, we need to do some internet-based parenting training and do three book reports apiece.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update on the Trivia Night

Not much to report on paperwork. As I related in my Monday post, we sent off some forms to the adoption agency. Using the U.S.P.S. tracking on their website, I can confirm it was delivered. Also, Brock meets up with our Home Study counselor on Saturday.

However, I have been working furiously on the upcoming trivia night fundraiser. I've written 5 of the 10 categories. I spent some time yesterday learning how to use the overhead projector that will hook up to my laptop. Also, I've obtained various silent auction items such as a beautiful handmade purse, a Lia Sophia bracelet & necklace set, scented candles, and a Tim Wilkerson basket of goodies.

Our total coupon books sold has reached 74. Those are the books of coupons (mostly buy 1, get 1 free) good at a large variety of local businesses. Over $2200 in coupons is included. We sell them for $20 and turn the money over to In His Hands Orphans. Eventually half of what we bring in will go towards our adoption costs. The other half will build an orphanage specialing in kids born with cleft palates and obtaining surgery for them.

Our trivia flyer is below:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Checked a lot off of the list this weekend

Today, I'm mailing in some required forms to our adoption agency. They are as follows:

New Client Letter Confirmation
International Adoption Contract (19 pages, initials on every page, notarized)
Addendum for China Adoptions (notarized)
China Waiting Child Referral Agreement
Certificate of Financial Status (notarized)
Post-Adoption Reporting Agreement for Adoptive Parents

Also, I feel like we're so close and yet so far away with our Home Study. Brock got his fingerprints submitted over the weekend. He is scheduled for his one-on-one personal interview this Saturday. He's meeting our Home Study consultant at Panera in Bloomington. We got my interview completed the last weekend in January. We also had a Home Study visit that weekend. It is my understanding that we need one more visit after this.

As far as the paperwork we need to complete for the Home Study, the following items are completed:

• 17-page Autobiographical Questionnaire (Amy – 1/31/10, Brock – 2/21/10)
• Fingerprinting for State Police & FBI (Amy – 2/2/10, Brock – 2/27/10)
• 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)
• Job Description, Plus Annual Salary (2/26/10)
• Proof of Life Insurance (2/28/10)
• Proof of Marriage (2/1/10)
• Snapshot of Home & Family (3/1/10)
• Military Discharge (Not Applicable)
• Affirmation Statement (2/25/10)
• Guardianship Statement (2/11/10)
• Adoption Home Study Agreement (2/25/10)
• Criminal Arrest Statement (2/25/10)
• Post-Adoption Reporting Agreement (2/25/10)
• Criminal Arrest Statement (2/25/10)
• 6 Character Reference Letters (6 received as of 3/1/10)

The following items still need to be done:

• Certificate of General Physical Examination for Adoption Applicant
• Doctor Medical Reference
• Financial Statement & Support

We have appointments scheduled for March 12 with our family doctor. We will get the first two items on the list completed at that time. It is our hope to begin working on the Financial Statement & Support this week.