Not Really the Foreign Dossier

Originally posted August 29, 2007 to our old Vox blog.

So, we submitted all the forms to the social worker for review, and she made a comment. Only five of the twenty pages were actually for the foreign dossier. The other papers were the rest of our application. Ooops! The agency said that nothing was late, but we could turn them in. So, we did. Now, we have one more thing checked off.

I did receive an email from the agency today saying that our file cannot be approved until we submit photos of our friends and family. So we are asking our friends to submit photos and a 200 word essay on why they should be in the photos we submit to the agency. Unfortunately, I’m kind of anal about getting things done, so if you consider yourself to be one of our friends, then you have until midnight, Saturday, September 1 to submit your essays and photos for reviews. You can email the material to be considered to me, Annie, and if you don’t know my email, then you probably shouldn’t submit an essay. Happy writing! I’ll be waiting. 🙂

We’re Expecting Too

Originally posted August 19, 2007 on our old Vox blog. This is an article I wrote and Scott edited. We wrote it for the Tapestry newsletter. Tapestry is the adoption ministry at our church.

My husband, Scott, and I started our journey with the simple phrase, “We’re open to adoption.” God heard us and provided opportunities for us to learn more about adoption. In the end, we’ve chosen to start our family by adopting from Vietnam. We didn’t try to conceive, and we don’t know what the future will bring, but we do know that we are starting our family and “pregnantly” waiting for our child.

As we’ve started this journey we have encountered many different perceptions of adoption. I naïvely thought we might not experience some of these reactions since we aren’t infertile (at least as far we know). However, it seemed like some people need that answer as a reason for our decision to adopt. Since we can’t give it, I suppose we appear a little weirder to those people.

One lady told me, “You know, I know people who have gotten pregnant after adopting.” I replied, “We’re not adopting because we found out we were infertile.” She said, “I know, but still.” Still what? It’s an inappropriate comment? Another woman, whom I know a little better, said, “You’re doing it for good reasons . . . adopting another person’s child.” I was puzzled by that comment, but eventually I figured it out. We are adopting “another person’s child” in her eyes. But we are also adopting our child – the child whom God already knows will be a part of our family.

Adoption stirs up different feelings in different people – but we only feel love. We are ready to love our first child and welcome him or her into our home. In the same way, my seven pregnant friends are waiting to welcome their first children into their homes. My pregnant friends are all having baby showers and counting down the weeks until their little ones arrive. I attend their showers, but I’ve been introduced twice as “the one who is adopting.” It seems that I am no longer introduced with, “This is my friend Annie,” but with “This is Annie, the one who is adopting.” Apparently I have a new name! My standard response is usually just a smile because honestly I feel a bit put on the spot – but I really wish I could say, “and I drive a black Xterra.” I think others hearing this sort of introduction feel put on the spot too, because they usually don’t say much.

At these baby showers, after the introductions come the presents. I sit and watch as the expecting women receive newborn clothes, newborn diapers, mittens, and all sorts of breastfeeding paraphernalia. As I watch these gifts being opened, I realize I won’t need to register for those things. We won’t likely meet our child until he or she is 12 months old. So I sit at the showers with these thoughts running through my head, and at times I feel out of place. There is a whole pregnancy world that I’m not a part of . . . that I’m not experiencing. I’m not looking for pity, though. Instead, I’m looking for understanding and acceptance, because I’m going to be a mom, too – and I’m going to think I have the best child ever known to mankind. I’m going to be a mom, but I don’t have a protruding belly, I don’t have morning sickness (which I’m not upset about), I don’t have weight gain, and I don’t have water retention. I don’t have these telltale physical signs of “expecting,” but I do have a heart. I’m not undergoing physical change – I’m undergoing heart change.

Choosing to adopt is one of the greatest decisions Scott and I have made as a couple, and I feel privileged to be welcomed into the adoption family. I feel privileged because I get to experience the blessings of a community that not many people get to experience. We found this community in Tapestry, and have felt supported from day one.

Even so we still field occasional random and ridiculous questions, but we’re making peace with that. In fact, we’ve even learned to laugh at some of the questions and comments we get from others. Bearing in mind that we are adopting from Vietnam, we were recently asked, “So will your child look Asian?” Another person, in response to hearing the news that we are expecting, said “You know, there’s a Vietnamese piano protégé at my college.”

How do you reply to that? The best we can do is to try to understand, and to try to laugh about it later. After all, both comments were spoken innocently enough. But we are also giving serious thought to foregoing our 401k’s, and instead investing in a grand piano.

Foreign Dossier Part Two

Originally posted August 15, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

So now, we have filled out our foreign dossier forms. We got checked for life-threatening diseases, and we are clear. The next step is submitting our forms for review to the social worker for Vietnam. She will review and let us know if anything needs to be changed. Then we get notarize like every page. Then I think we start then authentication process. I still don’t know where the forms go first.

One more thing, I received my passport this week, but we are still waiting on Scott’s. I’m sure it will be here by the end of the week.

Foreign Dossier Part One

Originally posted August 8, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

So our homestudy is finally finished and submitted, and now we can start on our foreign dossier papers. First, there are several forms that we have to fill out and then have notarized. After we have all the forms notarized, then the forms go through an authentication process. We’ll try to explain that later because we don’t fully understand.

We weren’t sure when we would be able to start filling out the foreign dossier papers because we didn’t have our passports back. We both applied for our passports in April, so it’s been more than 12 weeks which is what they say to wait. Today, I decided to check on the status via telephone, and I found out why we don’t have our passports yet. When we filled out the travel date, we put 2008 because that’s when we’ll hopefully be traveling to Vietnam. Well, the passport people aren’t too worried about processing an application that someone doesn’t need until 2008. Thankfully, the customer service agent said she could put in a request to expedite our passports because we need them for our adoption application. She requested them for August 15, but I think for sure we’ll have them by the end of the month. I  just wish I had called sooner. 🙂

We also have appointments on Monday for blood tests. We have to make sure we don’t have any life-threatening diseases. After the appointments, filling out and notarizing the papers, and receiving our passports, we will fax our forms to the  Vietnam social worker for review. Then, we start the authentication process.

It’s nice to be moving forward.

Blog

Originally posted July 20, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

Gladney sends us an E-newsletter about every month. In the news letter is a link to the Vietnam program and then the Vietnam blog. I enjoy reading the blog to see what other people have experienced. There is one post by a mother who recently adopted from Vietnam. If you would like to check it out visit http://gladneyvietnamadoption.blogspot.com/.

Homestudy

Originally posted July 6, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

So they only asked us a few questions…

How did you decide to adopt?
How did you pick our agency?
What age do you want to adopt?
Do you want to adopt a boy or girl?
What were your families reactions?
Does everyone in your family know?
Are they all supportive?
How long have you known each other?
How did you get together?
What kind of marriage do you have?
What’s your role in the marriage?
What are the strengths of your marriage?
What do you think your discipline and parenting style will be?
Have you heard of attachment issues?
What will you do to work with attachment issues?
Do you have a will?
Have you talked about picking legal guardians should anything happen to you?
What’s your net monthly income?
What’s your gross monthly income?
What’s your gross yearly income?
What are your debts?
What are your assets?

Then it was time for our one – on – one interview. While one of us interviewed, the other went upstairs. I’m pretty sure Scott tried to not to listen and do his own thing; me, on the other hand, I’m an eavesdropper.

What are the names and ages of your siblings? (This took me awhile.)
Who are you closest, too?
What is a happy memory from your childhood?
What is a sad memory from your childhood?
How would you describe your dad?
How are you like your dad?
How are you not like your dad?
How would you describe your mom?
How are you like your mom?
How are you not like your mom?
What is your parents’ marriage like?
How did they discipline?
Is there anything you would change about your past?
What’s your personality?
What are your challenges?
What’s your spouse’s personality?
What are your spouse’s challenges?
Is there anything you would change about your spouse?

And, she randomly asked me – what was your first job after you graduated?

After that we were finished. It was a lot of questions and a long interview (three hours), but it was interesting. Some questions we hadn’t asked ourselves or even thought about. Now, we have a lot to discuss, and we can officially begin our foreign dossier paperwork. Now, if only we could our passports back…they’ll come eventually.

Finally a Date!

Originally posted June 26, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

So just as I was beginning to think we were doomed and would probably never have a homestudy, our new social worker, Kristin, called. Last week, I emailed the social worker in charge of the Vietnam program to tell her about our homestudy scheduling issues. She emailed me on Monday to tell me the name of our social worker and that our homestudy was being made a priority. Then Kristin called today, Tuesday, the day after Monday which is pretty good turn around.

Our homestudy is scheduled for Friday, July 6 at 11 am. We were told that it would last about three hours. We picked Friday because Scott is going out of town tomorrow, and then we are going on vacation to Galveston on Friday. We will be coming back a day early, but it’s worth it to get our homestudy done. After this, comes the foreign dossier phase which includes a lot of paperwork and mailings. We’re just glad to be moving forward with the process.

Delay

Originally posted June 22, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

So we are still waiting for our homestudy to be scheduled…our original case worker had to cancel because of a family illness. We were given the name of a social worker who does contract work for Gladney. After waiting a week and not hearing anything, I emailed the social worker in charge of the Vietnam program. She is now looking into the matter for us, so hopefully we will hear something soon.

We did hear about additional paperwork. Now, the International Adoption Department requires each family to submit two original applications for adoption with the dossier, so we’ll be working on that as soon as our homestudy is complete.

Minor Setback

Originally posted June 12, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

So, today I received a call from our homestudy case worker. She had to cancel our homestudy for this Friday, June 15. Her father is ill and being moved to a skilled nursing facility, so she’s traveling to help with the transition. She also told us that another case worker has been assigned to complete our homestudy. We are now waiting for the new caseworker to call us and schedule a new time for the homestudy. We’ll let you know we have a new date for our homestudy. I guess God does want me to learn patience (again) and practice singing karaoke. 🙂

Homestudy

Originally posted May 30, 2007 on our old Vox blog.

So…right after I posted my last post, the Gladney Agency called to schedule our homestudy. I guess we didn’t have to wait that long.

Our homestudy will be on June 15 at 9 am, so no prank calls during that time, please. The lady I spoke with said that the homestudy will take about four hours. I don’t know a whole lot about what takes place during those four hours. They check out our house, ask us some questions, and hopefully survive meeting Shiner. We’ll see. But don’t worry, I’ll let you know how everything goes or if I learn anything else about the process. 🙂