Thursday, March 27, 2014

The paper chase

One difference in China and Korea adoption is that China requires a dossier, while Korea doesn’t. What that basically means is that adopting from China requires more paperwork. A lot more. 

In short, here’s what we’re working through -- 

Write our autobiographies for our social worker, which will tell her more about us – our marriage, parenting style, jobs, hobbies/interests, extended family, religious beliefs, etc
Participate in four interviews with a social worker for our home study, including at least one meeting in our home
Gather/prepare various documents, including birth certificates, marriage license, employment verifications, physical exams, police reports, floor plan of our house, financial statement, and adoption petition
Have those documents notarized
Have those documents certified by the appropriate Secretary of State
Have those documents authenticated by the Chinese Consulate 
Gather photos – 3 of us as a couple, 8 of our “family life,” and 3 passport photos each
Be fingerprinted by US Immigration in order to be approved by the US government to adopt a child internationally
Complete adoptive parent training (done online, thankfully)

At the end of that process, we will send our packet to our agency in Colorado who will review it and send it to the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare & Adoption). Once the CCCWA receives the packet, they will review it, and then officially log us in to their system. This entire process will take about 5-6 months. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How we got here...

When we brought Calvin home from Korea almost three years ago, we had every intention of adopting from Korea again as soon as possible. We couldn’t start the process again until we finalized Calvin’s adoption six months after returning home. During the course of those six months, the Korea program went through some major changes that caused us to rethink things. We started exploring other adoption programs because we knew that we were going to start the process to adopt our second child by the end of 2011. As is sometimes the case, though, our plans didn’t match God’s plans. Every single program or possibility we looked into was a closed door for one reason or another. After a few months, we decided that Calvin would remain our only child for the immediate future.

Life moved on. Brad was incredibly busy with church and work responsibilities, and we were enjoying our time as a family of three. In 2012, we started to sense God might have some big changes in store for our family, and in the summer of that year, we made a cross-country move.  We sold our house, wrapped up life in the Midwest, and said good-bye to many dear friends. We moved into an apartment in our new city over a thousand miles away, started new jobs, and began the process of getting acclimated to our new surroundings, finding a church, and making friends.

We continued to hold on to the possibility of adopting from Korea again, and even got as far as submitting a pre-application to the agency we used for Calvin’s adoption. But something just held us back from proceeding any further with it.

Nine months after our big move, we bought a house and moved again. We said all along that once we got settled in a house, we’d be ready to move forward with an adoption process. We unpacked, hung pictures on the walls, and started feeling “at home” – and yet something kept holding us back from starting another adoption. We knew without a doubt that we wanted to adopt again, but we also knew it just wasn’t time yet.

Rewind to the fall of 2011, right before we finalized Calvin’s adoption and when we were feverishly working to get things lined up for adoption #2. One of those doors God closed was the China program. We researched agencies and even participated in an orientation conference call with a highly recommended agency – CCAI, located in Colorado. We loved the agency, but we also knew it wasn’t the right thing for our family at that time. About 8 months later, we found ourselves searching for an apartment in our new city shortly before our big move. As we drove around one afternoon, I noticed a sign for CCAI. I was confused since the CCAI I knew of was based in Colorado. I did a quick search and was surprised to learn that CCAI had two offices outside Colorado – one of which we had just randomly driven past and would be living just down the street from. Wow.

So this past fall when we finally started to feel that we were ready to get started on another adoption process, we naturally felt led to use CCAI for a China adoption. We researched some other options, but in reality, our hearts were in China and with CCAI.

We submitted our first couple of forms in late September, just to get the process started, and then after Christmas we submitted our formal application to CCAI and started the first round of paperwork.

Our news

After a nearly three-year blog hiatus, we're back - and with news. Calvin is going to be a big brother!! We've started the process to adopt our second child from China. Details to come soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday in Seoul (a perfect day) - Part 1

It's now been three months since we traveled to Seoul. Someday I'll finish up these posts about our trip...

On Wednesday, we enjoyed one of those absolutely perfect, all-is-good-with-the-world sort of days. I even remember thinking to myself mid-morning that it was going to be an amazing day and that I should really focus on soaking it all in. Seriously, the day was incredible!

For starters, the weather was amazing - clear, sunny skies and wonderful spring temperatures - a lovely break from our home in the upper Midwest, where it was, for all practical purposes, still winter. We had been in Seoul for four days, so we were past the misery of jet lag and the unsettled feelings we had the first couple of days from being in a totally unfamiliar place. We were comfortable getting around the city and had learned how to function despite the fact that we speak *literally* only about three words of Korean. And Wednesday fell right between two of the most important days of our lives - meeting our son on Monday and taking custody of him on Friday. Although Calvin was obviously the main focus of our trip to Korea, we absolutely loved the time we spent as tourists in Seoul as well.

Our friends who live in Seoul, Ted and Hee Young, had graciously offered to be our hosts for the day - and what spectacular hosts they were! They planned a wonderful day for us, filled with fabulous Seoul sites, delicious food, and great company. What could be better?

Brad & I started the day like most others - on the subway. We left our hotel around 9, hopped on the subway, and headed just a few stops down to the station where we were meeting our friends at 9:30. This was the earliest we had been on the subway, and we immediately noticed how thick the crowds were! It was past the height of rush hour, so I can't imagine what it must be like earlier in the morning. I wish I had been able to take a picture, but it would have been nearly impossible to get my camera out of its bag on my back while also navigating through the sea of people.

We met up with Ted and Hee Young and quickly realized just what a treat it was going to be to spend the day with locals. For an entire day, we didn't have to think about subway stops, read maps or signs, or try to communicate across a language barrier. And of course, it was wonderful to tour Seoul with people who really know the city.

Our first stop of the day was the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Well, let me back up...We actually started at the Gwanghwamun subway station - at least I think it was Gwanghwamun. Remember - we didn't pay attention that day. :) As we walked up a long ramp leading out of the station we could see the palace in front of us. Ted spotted a kiosk just outside the station where tourists could try out traditional Korean royal clothing and asked if we were interested. I immediately said yes and convinced Brad to follow suit. :) A very sweet couple helped us get all dressed up...

Ted then took some pictures of us. Think we pass for Korean royalty? :)

We then spent some time walking around Gwanghwamun Square, which is just outside the palace entrance.

There was a movie or tv show being shot that morning. Our friends told us that the guy under the umbrella is a famous Korean actor (so of course I had to take a picture!). I didn't catch his name but was later told by an adoption friend that this is Lee Min Ho.

There were two large statues in the area - one of King Sejong, who created the written language of Hangul in the 1400s --
and the other of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, a famous military leader from the 1500s --

We then made our way to the palace, and the first thing we saw were the guards standing at the main gate.

Ted and Hee Young had booked the 11am English tour for us all. We looked around and took a few more pictures while we waited for that to get started.

A group of school kids approached Brad to visit with him and practice their English skills.

The tour lasted about an hour, and the guide told us all about the history of the palace. As we walked through the grounds, I took a *lot* of pictures....

We also got a few pictures of ourselves around the palace.
And there were a few kids that asked for a picture with us too.

After our palace tour, we left the grounds through the back entrance, which leads right to the Blue House - the home of the South Korean president.

After taking a few pictures and some video (which Brad was quickly told by a police officer wasn't allowed-oops!), we turned right and walked down a sidewalk that ran along the back wall of the palace. There were various government buildings on our left, and we passed a sign that indicated no photos were allowed. The next 10 minutes or so just might have been my longest stretch all day without snapping a single picture. :)

After we exited the area of government buildings, we turned to the left and started walking down a street that I found to be absolutely beautiful. It looked so different from anything else we had seen in Seoul. I was struck by how and scenic, peaceful, and relatively quiet it was. (I'm convinced nothing in Seoul is really quiet...the city is just "going" all the time.)
As we were walking, Hee Young pointed to a sign and told me it said bibimbap, which is one of our favorite Korean dishes, so I snapped a picture of it.
After I learned a couple of Hangul letters later in the week, I realized that I could actually read the word myself. :) Ok, so I can't really read the word so much as I know the character that looks like an upside-down capital a makes a b or p sound, and the word bibimbap has four such sounds. Genius, I know. :) At this rate, I'll have the language mastered in no time. (joking, joking...)

We walked a little farther until we reached the restaurant Ted & Hee Young had chosen for lunch.
(I have absolutely no clue what that says. I see m, s, and b/p sounds, I think. And the single lines with lines or dots beside them are vowels - again, I think.)

As we walked up two narrow & steep flights of stairs to the third floor of the restaurant, we noticed pictures and autographs on the walls. Ted & Hee Young told us the restaurant is very popular and is frequented by celebrities whose photos and autographs are displayed on the, just like in America!
When we reached the third level, we removed our shoes and sat down on the floor around a short table. Hee Young talked to the server as she walked through, and soon our food appeared. (That was one thing - of many - I found to be different in Korea from the US. It seemed that servers never really stopped and took orders like they do here in the US. Instead, they simply talked to customers as they walked by while doing something else. Like so many other things in Korea, it was fast, efficient, and not terribly personal...which is all fine with me!)

This was, hands down, the best meal we had in Korea. Honestly, I think it was one of the best meals we've ever had anywhere. It was that good.
some kind of soup with noodles - so good!!


side dishes

kimchi - a staple at all Korean meals - Ted & Hee Young told us that it's sometimes served in large pieces like this that have to be cut. This is to "prove" in a sense that it's fresh and not reused.

main dish - beef with rice cakes - AMAZING!!!

a pizza of sorts - also absolutely INCREDIBLE!!

two very full, but very happy, Seoul tourists

After lunch and a quick bathroom break as we were leaving restaurant (in what just might have been the world's tiniest go along with the tiny water cups in Korea and SWS's tiny elevator!), we continued on with our wonderful day. More to come in part 2...

Friday, May 20, 2011

First post-placement visit

Nine days after we returned from Korea, we had our first of three required post-placement visits. Our social worker was at our house for about 45 minutes to meet Calvin and ask us questions about our trip to Seoul and Calvin's adjustment, personality, and health. It was very simple and painless - actually more like chatting with a friend than anything formal. We also had to submit five photos and get Calvin's pediatrician to fill out a form for the report.

We'll have two more visits over the next few months, and then this fall we will formally adopt Calvin. Unlike most other countries, when adopting from Korea, there is no legal proceeding or adoption done in-country - that is all done back in the United States upon return (and after a short waiting period to ensure the child is adjusting well to his new home).