Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home Study approved!

As many of my close friends and family know, my mother has been very sick lately. Over the weekend, I drove to West Tennessee to spend time with her and help take care of her. Thankfully, she is doing better now, but while I was at my mother's house, I was without Internet access...no e-mail, no facebook, no blogger. Anyone who knows me realizes that this type of disconnection from my favorites sources of news and communication would be very hard for me :)

I spent my free time reading adoption materials and fretting over why our home study had not been approved. However, on my arrival home, I found an e-mail from our case worker at our agency saying that our home study had been approved and that we would receive our notarized copies soon in the mail. On Tuesday, the copies arrived! With our approved home study, Rob and I are now able to send off our USCIS paperwork (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and continue working in earnest to finish our Bulgarian dossier.

One of Rob's brothers, who is a police officer, also met us at the police station last Friday to help us with our finger printing required for our FBI clearance. That packet will be sent by express mail to the FBI office tomorrow and then....we wait. Our agency has informed us that the FBI clearance is now taking a minimum of 13 weeks compared to the previous minimum of six weeks. Too bad Rob's brother can't help expedite the processing of our clearance.

Rob and I are also finishing up our second round of adoption training by our agency, which has consisted of lessons and questionnaires delivered by e-mail, in addition to two training sessions held at the agency. We should receive our certificate for this training sometime next week, but until that time, I continue to immerse myself in books on adoption and books on Bulgaria.

Speaking of Bulgaria, I did make a great find yesterday in Nashville. Off of Thompson Lane near 100 Oaks, there is a Russian and Eastern European market called Aleksey's. I went there hoping to find anything from Bulgaria, and I was blessed with a purchase of a pound of kashkaval made in Vitosha, Bulgaria. I can't wait to try this cheese over the weekend. The market also had Bulgarian feta which I intend on using in a Bulgarian recipe sent to me by a friend. I will let you know how this turns out. I am also in the market for a Bulgarian cookbook as I would like to learn how to make dishes that are familiar to my son. Wish me luck!

My next step is try and learn as much Bulgarian as I can by the fall. Luckily, I have found a place online to take lessons and practice my skills since Rosetta Stone does not offer a course in Bulgarian. I am hoping to learn as many common place words and phrases that I can in order to talk to my son even though we will have a translator on our trip. On the other side of the language issue, Julia wants me to purchase "Your Baby Can Read" every time she sees it on television because she is convinced that this would help her little brother to learn English. She is so sweet and convincing in her argument that I may end up buying it. It can't hurt.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where there is a will there is a way?

Today has been difficult in regards to our adoption process. Rob and I have begun working on gathering all of the documents that we need for our dossier when it is sent to Bulgaria later in the year. We have a three page check list of documents that are needed for the dossier, including certified copies of birth certificates, our marriage license and copies of our passports. Those are actually the easy ones.

What remains are numerous forms that need to be filled out by other people attesting certain information about Rob and myself. For example, there is a medical certificate that needs to be filled out by a physician that states that Rob and I are healthy and able to be parents. There is another medical certificate that needs to be filled out by a specialist in psychiatry that states that Rob and I are mentally healthy and capable of being good parents. Our agency also informed us that we will need a letter on the physician's letterhead stating that any medications that we are on does not interfere with our ability to be parents and does not shorten our life span.

Did I mention that all of these documents must be notarized in the same county in which the document originated and then apostilled by the state? In other words, if the physician filling out the form is located in Williamson County, then the notary must be in Williamson County. The notary's commission cannot expire in less than six months from when the document was notarized. There also can be no errors on the document, no cross outs, and no white outs. City and state must be spelled out in all addresses, and our names must be spelled exactly as they are on our passports. If an error is made, the documents must be thrown away, and we must start over.

I actually can handle all of that..I think. What has been frustrating has been getting the physicians to do the documents in the first place. The doctor's office which did my medical certificate did not want to do my letter regarding my prescriptions. Instead, they wanted my hematologist to do the letter. I did not feel good about this, but I called my hematologist's office (who I just saw on Monday) and the nurse never called me back. In the mean time, I emailed our adoption agency who confirmed that the hematologist should not do the letter. The doctor who did the medical certificate should do the letter so I called them back, played phone tag, and finally gave the nurse the news that she did not want to hear. She begrudgingly said that she would get with the doctor and get the process started.

Did I also mention that our dossier has been revised in the last week and now requires us to get another medical certificate from said doctor after our first trip to Bulgaria? Aaagh! It also requires us to get another criminal background check after our first trip as well. The first one we have already done for our home study paperwork. There are more changes, but I won't bore you.

Many other things did not go well today, but a lot of it is out of my control, which is not really good for a person who can sometimes be described as a "Fixer"...think of the lyrics to the Pearl Jam song by the same name. But, I am learning very slowly that I have never really been in control. God is in the driver's seat, and he knows where Rob and I are going on this journey. He also knows what it is going to take to get there, and He has shown us many times over the last few months that He will make it known to us what to do in His time. So what do I do in this situation besides practice my patience? I remind myself of what a precious gift from God is waiting across the ocean for me and Rob...our little boy who needs us to persevere and see this journey to its conclusion no matter how long or hard the road becomes.

In the words of the French author, Comte de Buffon, "Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It takes a community

Our Chick-fil-A fundraiser was a success in more ways than one. We raised $250 to put towards our adoption fees from the sale of yummy chicken nuggets and waffle fries, and we received another $160 in cash donations while we were there. However, the biggest blessing came in the form of all of the people from our church, our friends and co-workers coming out to support our efforts.

Sometimes, it is so easy to fall into the notion that you must handle everything in your life on your own...that success or failure lies solely in your own hands. But, sometimes God has ways of reminding us that he is there and that he is in control, especially when you are walking down a path in which he has led you.

During the night of the fundraiser, God showed Rob and I in many ways that he was in control, and we were happy for it to be so. That night God placed several wonderful people in our path to help us on our journey to Bulgaria. Was it a coincidence? I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in providence.

Rob and I met a couple that night that we had been hoping to meet and get to know for weeks. This couple drove a long way to meet us because they had heard we were adopting a child from Bulgaria. We had learned about them earlier through an email from our adoption agency. This couple has already gone to Bulgaria to meet their adoptive daughter and is hoping to return to Bulgaria next month to bring her home. They were so warm and friendly and answered all of our seemingly endless questions. It is so wonderful to talk with someone who is on the same journey that we are on. We are hoping to get together with them again soon for dinner and to learn more about the beautiful country where our son and their daughter was born.

That night Rob and I were also formerly introduced to the father of a little girl who has been attending karate with our daughter for more than a year. We see him every week at the dojo, but until the night of the fundraiser, we had no idea that he was from Bulgaria! He was so kind and told us that he would be happy to translate any documents for us. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Two very good friends of mine, Laura and Kim, also worked their hearts out that night and prior to the event making sure that the flyers were distributed and that everyone knew about our fundraiser. Thanks you two! And a big thank you to our life group from church who came out in full force and to all of our friends and church family who showed their support! And thank you to Rob's dad (Grandpa to our daughter and soon to be to our son) for driving such a long way for a chicken sandwich and to support your new grandson!

Rob and I are working daily to bring our son home, but we also know that we could not do this without the support of so many wonderful people, including the people at our adoption agency and our wonderful caseworker. Adoption really does take the work of a community.

JAM 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.