Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Adoption Binder - For the organizing geeks

Ahhh, there is nothing so satisfying as a properly organized binder. With our first adoption, I used an expandable file folder system, but that got pretty full and clunky a few months in. This time around, I am using a binder system. If you are starting out, hopefully this can help you. And for those of you that love highlighters, post it flags, and tabs, feel free to give me some tips to make this better.

I used a D-ring binder with double pockets in the front and back (for forms, like medicals, that need to be completed). Currently, I have five tabs - Dossier, Homestudy, Agency, Travel, and Misc., but I think I'll add Fundraising/Financial and Post Adoption tabs. I put Dossier at the front since that is the most important and complicated. I put the checklist in front and instructions for each document are behind that in the order they're on the checklist. I used pink tabs for things that don't need notarizing, orange tabs for those that just need notarizing and blue for documents that need notarizing, certifying and authenticating. I also highlighted them in that color on the checklist. I can write on the flag the date that each step was completed. There is a closeable file folder at the back to keep the finished documents as I collect them. Of course, I forgot to add a pencil pouch at the front to put my pens, highlighters and flags in! :)

Here is an updated photo now that our dossier is off to China. In the "Money" section, I put any grant applications or fundraising with tabs plus receipts and invoices for all expenses. My binder is about 3" thick now.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Our son is waiting in China!

I am so excited!! I got the word today that they decided to match us with Little E (pending homestudy)! I cannot wait until that pending homestudy part can be taken off. I feel like I am in the first trimester and I'm afraid to get too excited in case something happens. I will be doing the paper chase while we complete the homestudy to try to bring down the timeline a little. I can't bear to think of him waiting longer than he has to. We have been assigned a social worker, so we are just waiting for her to get the file and get started. In the meantime, I get to start getting all the documents in order. China has a few more steps and documents required than Ethiopia, so I feel like I've done this before but not at this level - if that makes sense. A little info - Little E is four years old and ridiculously cute. He has a vision issue in one of his eyes and a speech delay, but he is very active and smiley. He sounds like a handful, but I figure he will fit right in here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Things we saw this year, in no particular order

 Caterpillar at Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, FL
 Birds also at Loxahatchee
 Butterfly at Loxahatchee. In fact we saw about sixty different kinds of birds, butterflies and critters. We did not, however, see an alligator. They were uncooperative that day.
My dad's paradise in Oklahoma.
 Texas Skies
 Raccoon or Possum Tracks? Methinks raccoon.
 Splash Mountain at Disney
 The emergency exit of Splash Mountain
Disney in the rain (as I told my kids, "Lots of people get to go to Disney in the hot sun, but very, very few get to spend their day at Disney in the rain!") I highly recommend it, the lines were very short.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The beginning of waiting...

Ugh. I remember this part. I have done everything I can do for now. Filled out every form I received. Sent it in the mail then compulsively checked the tracking info to follow it's journey. I called them within three hours and left a voice mail, "I saw it was delivered today, so I just wanted to check in...". Then I sent an email just to be sure. Of course, they didn't even open it till today. Every doable task I was given today, I had done within an hour.

Yes, the eagerness has set in. I was so petrified and filled with fear when I wrote that last blog post. I knew what God wanted, but I was SO scared to say yes. I even knew I was going to say yes anyway. I kept asking my husband, expecting him to either say "You're driving this bus alone. You need to stop." or "God gave me a dream of this child, let's go." But all he said was, "I have peace about it." In fact, that was ALL he said. Then he went back to work. He didn't then spend three hours talking about all the pros and cons and also all the things that could happen post adoption. That was me. So later that day, I asked him again. Exact same answer. Then he went back to reading his kindle. It was just me being a big ball of stress, but I still knew the path. As soon as I told the agency we wanted to proceed, all my fear went away. Then the excitement and impatience came. I was praying everyone in the house would be excited too, and I was really surprised by how they were all on board as soon as we talked about it. The kids were enthusiastic and had all sorts of good questions. I was most surprised by my mom. Since she lives with us, she sees all the sides of our kids, and it usually drives her to her room. On particularly loud and whiny days, she might disappear mid-morning and not be heard from again until the next day. (This was good planning on our part to give her a mini kitchen and personal back door.) I sort of dreaded her reaction, but she totally surprised me. She was gung-ho almost as soon as I told her about my God moment. It was almost like, "if God told you this is your next child, then by golly, let's do it!" It is also a blessing that she has a heart for special needs, and she often helps out with the SN ministry at church. It was a huge answer to prayers.

I became super productive. I couldn't sleep longer than five or six hours a night. If I had no paperwork to do, I reorganized, cleaned and consolidated. I emptied out Child #3 and #4's shared bedroom, like totally. Those two are little hoarders. I have nothing wrong with kids' shows promoting caring for the earth, but now I have kids that save everything, saying, "I'm going to reuse this!" and "I'm going to recycle this." Bits of cardboard, toilet paper tubes, every kind of box, bubble wrap, bits of yarn, along with stray Legos, doll shoes, barrettes, crayons, colored pencils. They clean their room often, but their methodology is lacking. It generally involves a lot of stuffing random things in corners of the room. So when I emptied the room, I kept finding little treasure troves of useless detritus, behind the books, behind clothes, corner of the closet, behind the bed, etc. Then I had to sort it, I mean you can't just throw away Legos, pencils, socks and My Little Pony accessories. It was painful. I filled totes for the attic, for Goodwill and for consignment sales. I vacuumed, wiped down shelves and baseboards and windows, then I touched up the paint. Then I stripped the mattresses, vacuumed them, and used the carpet cleaner on them. Tomorrow, I'll shampoo the carpet and put everything back together. I don't know that I have ever cleaned a room quite so thoroughly. The sad thing is, I can't wait to do the boys room next! Anything to put this excess energy into use until someone gives me some more paperwork to chase. I am in full on nesting mode. I hope it lasts for a while because I have a few unfinished projects, plus I could always start school up again.

Monday. I won't be able to tell anyone until Monday. That is the day they decide whether to match us (pending the homestuday). We are doing it kind of backwards, which is not my comfort place, but apparently it's pretty common with special needs. So this is just the beginning of waiting. I will try to see it as the precious gift it is - time to prepare mentally, physically and emotionally. I wanted to share this amazing post again because it was true six years ago when she first wrote it, and it still applies today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

You call me out...

I love the fact that right now very few people read my blog. Since I never have time to post, the readership has gone way down. But the introvert in me feels very comfortable here. (Side note: I have a really bad habit of spouting out verbal diarrhea when I am around someone that makes me a little nervous. This could be another mom that actually wears makeup and combs her hair or it could be my kids pediatrician or my pastor. It's almost always awkward and embarrassing. I take a normal How are you doing? into tangents and geeky non-sequiturs.) Oops, I do it in blog form too.

Anyways, as you can probably tell by my blog schedule, we were dipping our toys back into the adoption waters again in November, but we stopped before getting far. Paperwork completely filled out went into a drawer. We felt apathy. But for me it was a whole lot of fear. It was so much easier to put it all in a drawer. We have a happy family dynamic. We have busy schedules sometimes but relative harmony. Are we some kind of masochists that we always feel the need to create a challenge? Are we so used to difficulty that we want to create some in the calm? We had to ask ourselves this. Was it God or was it us feeling like we should? So we sat back and relaxed. We have had one of the most enjoyable summers in my memory, and we really didn't go anywhere beyond a 15 mile radius. We visited my dad in May then we sat back. We've done school a few days a week here and there to stay in practice, but that has felt very relaxed too. We said this is a good place to be, and it's fun thinking about building a pool someday or going on a trip to Korea (okay, that's just me). I love it that my youngest can get herself breakfast in the morning and I can actually sleep in on summer days.

But God set in motion a series of events from different people that came together like the Rube Goldberg OKGo video, and at the end was me rechecking an agency email I had passed over last week. And boom the banner falls. So we are in the infancy of a storm. I'm not going to say God spoke to me because I don't hear a man's deep voice in my head. It's still just mine, but I clearly thought. "Well, you've had your vacation. You've gotten to be lazy and kind of selfish, but now it's time again to go back out." I know with certainty the end of the path, but I'm uncertain of the twists and turns along the way. But man do I have FEAR. God has given me a spirit of adventure and productivity and perseverance, but on the flip side, I struggle with needing to be in control, of having everything planned and researched properly, and of everything being safe. My husband worries about the money aspect, and I'm uncharacteristically unconcerned about that. When God says we're supposed to do something, He brings the money together. But me, I worry about the family harmony, will someone be picked on or feel left out, will there be serious issues that develop that we could have avoided by just staying a family of six, will we die on a plane crash on the way there... My mind wanders to stupid places when I'm trying to sleep. But I remember the tree accident, one of the worst and best days of my life because God destroys, but He also restores. He is faithful through everything. On Sunday, we finally sang Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) after a year or two of that song not being in the rotation. So I have that song playing over and over in my head. Then after three weeks of sermons on stewardship and generosity comes a sermon on the parable of the talents. Do we bury the bag of gold out of fear? It was never our bag of gold to begin with.