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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

The last few weeks of December were spent gathering the last two things we needed for our dossier.  I finally received the last piece of paperwork (which took two weeks to get, ugh!) I needed from my doctor on the Monday before Christmas.  Yes!!  We mailed everything out to our placement agency on December 27th, they received it today, and we hope to have our dossier overseas by early January.

We look forward to what 2014 holds!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Puzzle Update #2

It has been a few weeks since I showed an updated photo of our puzzle fundraiser.  Here is the most recent progress that has been made.  Thank you RenĂ©, Kevin and Karen, Terrence, Steve, and the Perez family for becoming pieces of our puzzle.  We have put together more than 20 pieces in the last ten days or so and have made some good progress.
If we do not make our January 1st goal, we will keep this going until it is done and keep you updated every so often on its progress.  You may click here to learn more about it.  We are about a third of the way through with the puzzle and appreciate each of you who have helped us get this far.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

To My Unadopted Daughter

A Christmas letter to our little girl, who we have not yet had the privilege of meeting. A reminder that there are children this Christmas who are waiting for a family, and families this Christmas who are waiting for their child to come home. 

To My Dear Unadopted Daughter, 

 Today is Christmas day, and I am sitting in our living room watching your future siblings play with their presents. I am hoping that wherever you are, someone has given you a gift this year as well. My prayer for you is that you are safe, and warm, and loved. How much I wish you were here with us this Christmas, but we are praying that by this time next year, you will be safe in our home. I wonder sometimes what you will look like. I dream about the day when we meet for the first time. I wonder if you will like me, or if you will be afraid of me at first. I know you will love your brothers and sister. Your sister can't wait until she meets you. She often asks when her sister is coming home. It is hard for her to understand why the process takes so long, and why it has to be so expensive. I wonder the same thing myself. Please know that we are doing everything we can to get to you as soon as possible. Christmas time in America is a happy time. There are lights, and music, and food and gifts. Do you celebrate Christmas in your country? I can't wait to learn about the world you live in, and share with you the world I live in. We had a special Christmas breakfast this morning. Your future mother made something called monkey bread. I don't know if you know what a monkey is, but trust me, it is not made from a monkey. It is a kind of sugary bread. I think you will enjoy trying it. I pray for you daily and ask God to keep you safe. In my heart, it is already as if you were my daughter, and I know that in God's time you will be here. Until that time, my daughter, be well. Know that we love you, and are doing everything in our power to bring you home. I trust that by next Christmas you will be here, and that will be the best Christmas ever. Love, Your Future Dad.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Puzzle Update

Here is a quick update on the progress of our puzzle so far.  Cole has been really excited whenever he has been able to add pieces to it.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to Seth, Becky, and Julie for your contribution!

As you can see, we still have a ways to go.  There are still 90 pieces to put together.  We have a couple more puzzle pieces "promised" but need more help to finish it by our goal date of January 1st.

If you are new to our blog, are just hearing about our puzzle fundraiser, would like to learn more about it, or want to participate, please click here.
 Puzzle before it was begun
 The first two pieces
 The first six pieces
 Working on it together

 The first ten pieces...making progress :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


*Disclaimer - This post is a little different from most of the ones I publish.  If you are curious, read on, but please don't say that I didn't warn you! :D

Have you ever had a day (or days), week, or month of discouragement and/or frustration mixed in with a few "Are we crazy?" and "Now what?" thoughts?  Mid week last week, those were my thoughts on the subject of this adoption.  The excitement of our immigration approval was not over, but it had dimmed somewhat in light of the fact that we.were.stuck.  We could not make anymore big steps forward until we had the money to do so.  I have tried not to focus on money on this blog, instead making it more about our adoption journey, but the truth is that adoption is expensive - expensive to the tune of a minimum of $25,000 - $35,000 and money that we, and the majority of adoptive families, don't have lying around.  

By Abe Ezekowitz (My private collection)
[GFDL ( 
On Thursday morning, I talked to our contact at Lifeline and was told that once we have our dossier in Hungary, it usually takes only a few weeks for approval, and we enter the referral stage of adoption.  Referral can be a process that is very fast (within a month or two), or it can drag out for several months.  It is dependent upon a few things, one of them, the availability of a child that is a good match for your family.  While this information came over the phone line, I was thinking "Ok, this is great news! We are getting closer, but we don't have the money to move forward right now, so it still seems so far away."  That same day, we got a phone call from an agency we applied to to get an interest free loan for adoption expenses.  (The year after a completed adoption, an adoptive family is eligible for a tax credit to help offset the costs of adoption.)  Lifesong and We Care For Orphans are partnering together to give us a $5,000 loan.   This loan is given to us now, and we agree to pay them back using some of the tax credit we will receive after the adoption.  Every time it has appeared that we would hit a wall regarding the money we need to move forward, God has brought it in from somewhere.  In this instance, it is more than we needed right now, and will also help us to cover some other upcoming expenses.  We are so thankful that God is using Lifesong and We Care For Orphans to help us move forward now.  We hope to have our dossier in country in the next few weeks.  

By Ryan Child
You may be asking still.."What about your post title?  What does "TUG" have to do with this?" When I was a teenager, my pastor taught us to use the acronym TUG for answered prayer.  It means "Thank U God".  No, it isn't the best English, and yes, I know that "you" isn't spelled that way, but I never forgot that and still often use it today to cross off an answered prayer on my prayer list.  I just wanted to say Thank you God for answered prayer!  Thank you also to those of you who have been praying with us regarding the loan/grant applications we have mailed out.  Please don't stop praying!  This was the only loan application we sent out, but there are still several grant applications that are pending.  We still need $15,000 - $20,000 between now and the time we will travel to get our child. Please pray that we will be awarded some (or most) of this money through grants and the rest through fundraisers and extra income.  Right now, we have no idea where this money will come from, but every time we have needed funds to move forward, He has provided them.

I read this week Ez. 37:1-10 where Ezekiel is told to preach to dry bones.  There was no life there, but Ezekiel went forward anyway because he knew that is what God told him to do.  I hope that if you have some "dry bones" in your life that this post about seeming "dry bones" in our lives will encourage you.  If you have no idea how what is happening is going to work out, even though you know you are doing what God has called you to do, may I encourage you to move forward anyway in this thing we call faith.

  Thank you to those who have helped us financially so far.  Our puzzle fundraiser is still going on, and we still need more pieces to be purchased!  Will you help Cole put more pieces of his puzzle together?  To read how

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Be A Piece Of Our Puzzle

Several weeks ago, Mark and I saw an idea for a fundraiser, using a puzzle.  We talked about trying it but have not gone ahead with it and our son beat us to it. :D  About two weeks ago, Cole won a puzzle as a prize in junior church.  He has wanted to help us get the money we need for our adoption expenses and asked if he could use the puzzle he won for it.

Here Is How It Works

Cole wants to put together his puzzle.  Each piece costs $5 to put into place, so we are asking you to donate $5 toward our adoption expenses.  For every five dollars that you donate, we write your name on the back of a puzzle piece, put it into the puzzle, and you become a piece of our puzzle and our adoption.   You can donate $5, $10, or more.  Your name or your family's name will go on the back of as many puzzle pieces as you "buy".   Once the puzzle is completely put together, we will put a clear puzzle sealer on the front and back and hang it.  It will be our visual reminder of all the people who helped us bring our child home.  Our goal is to raise $500 by January 1st, 2014.  Cole is very excited about being able to help with our adoption expenses.  Will you help him put his puzzle together?

You can donate via Paypal.  Please indicate "puzzle" on your Paypal donation.  We will keep you updated on how the puzzle is going together. If you would like to participate but do not have a PayPal account, please contact me at, and I will email you our mailing address. Thanks in advance!

Monday, November 25, 2013

How It All Began

Some, maybe many, of you have not heard how we got to this place.  What prompted us to adopt?  How did we get here?   I don't think this story has been told very often, and I know this is the first time I have written it down.  Today, I am a guest blogger on Marcy Hanson's No Maybe Baby blog where you can read how we got to this point and where we are today.* (Click here to read our story.)

*  There is an update to my guest post.  We received our immigration approval this past Thursday!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Immigration Approval

Woohoo! Our immigration approval form came in the mail today!  (Though the only name you see in the photo below is Mark's, my name is there farther down the paper.)  Thanks to all of you who have prayed with us for this.  We are very thankful to have it and excited to move forward in this process.

The next step is to get our dossier (doss-ee-ay) together and sent to Hungary for approval.  For the last several days, we have been working to get this ready to go.  We have most of what we need and will finish collecting the rest of it as quickly as possible.  We will be also be talking with our worker at Lifeline after Thanksgiving to determine when we will send it overseas.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Learning To Ride

Let me start by saying that we don't have any new news right now about the immigration or grant applications.  I did speak to someone last week from one of the grant/loan agencies to verify some information.  Based on what I was told during that phone call, we should hear something from them in the next week or two. This particular group gives interest free loans that are based on the adoption tax credit: they loan you (interest free) a certain amount of money, and you can pay it back after the adoption when you receive the tax credit.  It would not cover all of the cost but would help tremendously.  Like all the grant/loan companies, they usually have more applicants than money.  Please pray with us about this possibility.

As you may have guessed by the photo, Mark is learning to ride the unicycle.  He has had a desire to learn to ride one for several years, so he decided also use it as a tool to raise money for our adoption expenses.  This fundraiser is not planned until the spring  (late March or early April is the thought right now): his plan is to get sponsors (like a bike or walk-a-thon participant would) and ride the unicycle for a specific number of miles.   There are many details to work out, and we do not have all the plans made as of yet, but we thought you might enjoy an occasional update as he learns to ride and prepares for it.

Mark had never been on a unicycle until he purchased this one.  The above photo was taken a few days after he began learning to ride when he still needed to hang on to stay on.  He has made some great improvements since then and can now ride a good distance.  In this you tube video, he is riding on unpaved ground which is quite a bit more difficult than riding on the road but is good practice for him.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Forever Families...Making A Difference

November is National Adoption Month.  In the adoption world, it is a time to get the word out about orphans, raising awareness about the need that the fatherless around the globe have for forever families, as well as raising needed funds to make this a reality for these children.

Featured today on the how to be a dad today website is a podcast interview from Craig Stewart whose family has become the "forever family" for two children, one of them with special needs.  It isn't always easy, but there are blessings in this journey too.  Follow the link below to listen as he shares from his heart a glimpse of their "making a difference" story.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I-800A Status Update

Sometimes silence is golden, and sometimes... it's not.  Things have been pretty silent for us in the adoption arena these last few weeks.  The short story is that we are still waiting to hear about our application.  For the slightly longer story, read on.

This past Monday I called and spoke to a lady in the adoption department of US immigration.  Our case has not yet been assigned to an agent, so the paperwork is just there until it is our turn to have our information reviewed. 

On the positive side of things, the woman I talked to did tell me that it is taking about fifty-five days from the date of application to get a decision from them. That time frame for us would be somewhere around November 22nd, though it is not a guaranteed date.  It is encouraging to know that we have a good chance of hearing some news regarding our approval for international adoption before January. (To read more about our USCIS process, see here and here.)  We would love to have our immigration approval to be grateful for during Thanksgiving week!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

USCIS Fingerprinting

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."  These are the words we saw written in the room where swearing in ceremonies happen in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) building.

Yesterday began early...4:15 a.m. to be exact.  We had a 9 a.m. appointment at the USCIS office that services our county.  Why are we up so early then?  Because that office happens to be 2-1/2 hours (one way) from our house, and we had rush hour traffic to contend with as well.  Mark and I dropped off our children (The paperwork requested that due to limited seating availability, we not bring anyone with us that did not need to be there for the appointment.) at my sister-in-laws' house and started the drive.  

We arrived 30 minutes early and went through security with our appointment notice and ID, (You are not guaranteed admittance into the building without your appointment notice and an ID.) and were seated in the room where swearing in ceremonies for new US citizens is done.  Our US flag and emblems from each of our armed forces are on display, along with the phrase quoted at the beginning of this article.  Unfortunately, no photos are permitted in the building, so I do not have those to share.  Mark commented that we were seated in a room that is important to a lot of people, and where they have become a US citizen.  Though in some ways the room was nondescript, it reminded me that for some, this room represented a dream come true. What a privilege it is for us to have been born in this great nation!
 By Jnn13 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 

We were called in to a smaller room a few minutes before our 9 o'clock appointment time, given a short form to fill out, and then called to a kiosk where an attendant took our digital fingerprints.  Within twenty minutes, our appointment was completed, and we were on our way home. It was a five hour round trip for digital fingerprints! 

Now, we are again at one of the many waiting stages during the adoption process.  It has been said that adoption is the "paper pregnancy", and that has been very accurate so far.  Fingerprinting was the last of what was needed for the completion of our immigration application: now, we wait for our case to be assigned and approved or denied.  We have recently learned that immigration processes seem to have been very slow lately, taking up to four months for a verdict.  If ours takes that long, it could be January before we know if we have immigration approval or not.  Please pray with us for two things:1) approval from immigration for an international adoption and 2) that our approval will not take such a lengthy time to process.  

We will continue to keep you updated on how things are progressing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

USCIS* Notice

 Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest

Today's update is short with only a little bit to tell you about, but it's part of the process, so...

We took a mini vacation for three days this past week (which is not part of the adoption process :D.  We had a great time, and I will include a few pictures of out trip at the end of the post.  The picture to the left was taken by Mark).  When we came home, there was a mail notice from USCIS* acknowledging receipt of our I-800A (Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country) form.  We were also informed that USCIS* will schedule bio metrics (in plain English, electronic fingerprinting and/or photograph) appointment.  We should receive the notice for the time,date, and place in the mail - hopefully sooner rather than later, but you never know.  This notice is not an approval from immigration for the adoption but we know that they have our application! Please continue to keep our immigration approval in prayer as we wait for a decision to be made (yes or no...of course, we need/want a yes!).

We are also working to get grant applications out.  We have mailed two of them out and have complete a third online.  There are three or four more that we hope to get in the mail in the next week or so.  We will probably not have any information regarding the applications we have sent out for eight weeks or more. Thank you to those who have provided the requested references for us to send in with the grant paperwork. Please pray that we will be able to be approved for one or more grants: this would be a tremendous help for the adoption costs.

Thanks again for joining us!

* United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
 High Point, DuPont State Forest

 Triple Falls
(It rained at the beginning of our hike, so we were a bit damp.)

 At the Apple Orchard

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Immigration Paperwork Is In

By Jonathan Joseph Bondhus via Wikimedia Commons
     Since the last time we updated you, we have received the hard copy of our home-study.  Yay!

     Today, we received an email from Lifeline stating that our next batch of paperwork had been received by them and they have submitted it to immigration.  We submitted form I-800 A along with copies of our birth certificates, marriage license, home-study, and the immigration application fee.  Form I-800 A is used for those who are planning to adopt from a Hague Convention country.  As stated on the I-800 A application form, this is basically  "for determination of suitability to adopt a child from a convention country". So, now we are waiting for approval from the US immigration office to be accepted to adopt internationally.  The adoption process is full of paperwork and waiting!!  Please pray with us that we will be approved through US immigration without a problem.

     And...speaking of paperwork, we are now collecting what is needed to complete our dossier (pronounced doss-ee-ay).  The dossier is a collection of information about us that will be sent to Hungary and translated into Hungarian for approval from Hungarian officials for us to adopt from their country.  (Once you are approved by the US for adoption from a particular country, you are likely to be approved by that country for adoption.)  Many of the same pieces of information that we have already collected, we will need to get again.  We will need another medical form from our doctor (this is time sensitive and cannot be done too early or it will "expire"), certified copies of birth certificates and our marriage license, financial  information, immigration approval form (once we get it), photos of ourselves and our home, copies of our passports, our home-study, and the dossier fee (there is a fee for pretty much everything you submit throughout the adoption process) are all included in the dossier.  If you are new to the adoption process, I recommend that you ask your placement agency at the beginning of the process (before you do the home-study) how many certified copies of your marriage license and  birth certificates you will need for the adoption process.  You may be able to avoid having to get this information multiple times and it is likely to be cheaper to get all the copies you need at once.

     We are excited about the progress that has been made in the last month and look forward to moving forward in the months ahead.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Home-study Update #3

     We survived!  We had only a week between our second and third meetings and had a ton of education work to do, including a ten hour online course to complete. We had to complete it separately, so we spent
 a lot of extra time on the computer that week. Our third meeting with our social worker was on August 1st. This meeting included information about what health care (i.e. hospitals, doctors, etc.) is available in our 
area for the child we want to adopt, information about potential delays or problems that might come up throughout the adoption process, where to find further education about specific adoption situations, expectations for the adoption, discipline methods, our commitment to helping our child keep some connection to her roots, and religious beliefs. 
     For those who have looked ahead and wondered what to expect and whether or not this was going to be a terrible experience, I can assure you that it is not the monster it can sound like. That being said, I highly recommend that you take time to check out the agency you want to use.  Ask questions and do not be afraid to choose not to use an agency if they are not a good fit for you.  Check the agency's ratings on the BBB website, Google the name to see what you can find out about them (keep in mind that sometimes people who are disgruntled will post negative things, but those who have had a positive experience will not always put it out there for everyone to see),ask friends/others who have adopted which agency they used, and pray that God will show you which agency you should use.  We have had a wonderful experience with our 
home-study agency.  However, each agency has some latitude to determine what they ask or include in their
home-study interviews.

     A brief explanation..why do I keep mentioning a "home-study agency" and a "placement agency"?  A placement agency can help you with all the steps of the adoption, but in order to write our home-study, they must be licensed to do so in the state where we reside.  Lifeline is our placement agency, but they are not yet licensed in our state.  So, we needed a second agency,  to do our home-study meetings and write up the actual home-study document (which will consist of several pages) to give to Lifeline and be used throughout our adoption process.  These two agencies are working hand-in-hand to get this piece of paperwork completed.  After the home-study is done, CAS will not be involved in the adoption again until we have our post placement (meaning after the adoption is completed) meetings. We hope to have this document in hand by the middle of August.  Once the home-study is written, it will be approved by Lifeline before being finalized and released to us for use.

    My husband recently recorded an interview with Leo Gibbons, a family friend who has been involved in foster care and adoption for 15 years.  If you are interested in hearing it, you can find the interview here

     See you next time!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home-study Update #2

       We are two-thirds of the way through our Home-study interviews!    Our first interview was on July 9th, and has been the longest one so far.  This interview included all of our family for a short part of it and just we parents for the rest of the 3-1/2 hours.  It also included giving our social worker a tour of our home.  We had a lot of questions about how this might work but were pleasantly surprised to see that the home "inspection" was not a rigid, white glove inspection of every aspect of our home, but more like a guided tour for him to see the layout of it.  Information discussed for our first meeting included such things as what led us to adopt, current children's personalities, current children's view of the upcoming adoption, and reviewing paperwork that was sent in previous to our meeting. 
       Our second interview was on July 24th and only included the parents.  Since we had to drive a little more than an hour from our home to meet our social worker, it was a great time to get a sitter to leave the kiddos with and have some time together during the drive. We met at a library.  The first part of this time was spent with all three of us talking together, then we had some separate conversations with our social worker for about 30 minutes each.  Some information discussed in this interview included childhood, our relationship with extended family, getting to know a more about our personalities and interests, our marriage, future goals, and areas of strengths and weaknesses for both of us.  Though we have heard that some of these interviews are really invasive in the information they ask, neither of us have felt that way with either of the two meetings we have had.  Our third and final interview is scheduled for next week, and we should have a written Home-study report ready to go within a few days after that.  We are excited about the steps we have been able to take in the last month to make this adoption journey a reality.  Thanks for following along!

P.S.  Our blog has a new look! Tell us what you think about it in the comments below.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beginning the Interviews

         Finally! All of the paperwork and the fee for the Homestudy* is in, and we have the green light to continue with the second and last portion of the homestudy process. We will have three interviews with our social worker along with some online educational training to complete the Homestudy. Our first interview is scheduled for next week, and we are looking forward to completing this part of the adoption process.  Getting this far has taken much longer than we originally hoped, but its completion will be a big step in moving forward.

       Thanks to those who have taken the time to ask us how things are going, even when we have had little to say except "still working on paperwork".  Just knowing that you care enough to ask about it is a big encouragement! If you are a regular reader (or even if you're not), please comment on our blog.  We love to hear from those who are following our journey and appreciate hearing from you there too!

 *The purpose behind the homestudy is to be sure that you meet the requirements for adoption and to help prepare us to parent the adopted child. There are two basic parts to the homestudy: the paperwork and the face to face interviews with your social worker.  Each agency chooses in which order they want to complete it, with some gathering all the required documents first and others doing the interview process and then gathering paperwork.  With our agency, we turn in all of the papers, documents, and even some questions we have for them, first and then proceed to the interviews.  The purpose of the interview part of the homestudy is for them to get to know us so the best child match  for our family (and the child) can be made.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Good News!

     It has been several weeks since we updated our readers on our adoption.  These last weeks have been a combination of waiting and waiting...and, you guessed it... more waiting to secure a home study agency.

     The good news is...we are finally making some progress with our Home Study! :)  As previously posted, we thought that we were going to be able to go ahead with the second home study agency. Unfortunately, that agency also fell through for us, but it appears that the third agency we have contacted will be the one we will use.  Home Study agency number three has accepted our application, and they are now waiting on us to gather all of paperwork - including, but not limited to, marriage and birth certificates, doctor's health forms for all members of the family, background checks, and autobiographies to send in to them.  Once we have sent the requested paperwork in, we will begin the face to face interviews with the social worker.  We hope to have all the paperwork sent in and ready to go by mid-April.  The Home Study process is likely to go on through the month of June before its completion but will be a major step forward in completing the entire adoption process. 

     While we were waiting to get our home study agency, we did begin doing some of the reading that is required by our placement agency.  There are several hours worth of education that we have to complete as part of the adoption process, including some reading about the history and people of the country (Hungary) from where we are pursing the adoption.

      We will keep you posted on how things are going.  Thanks for following along with us as we travel "Our Road To Adoption".

Monday, February 18, 2013

Request For Prayer

My wife and I are learning that there is nothing easy about the adoption process.  There are days when we are overwhelmed with the immensity of the process.  Other days, we are asked for an update, but are unable to give one other than that we are just "waiting".

We have been waiting for almost three weeks now to hear back from a Homestudy agency regarding their willingness to do our homestudy.  Today, I heard from our Placement agency, that the Homestudy agency had contacted them with concerns about our income not being sufficient.  Arghhhhh!!!!  Our Placement agency, Lifeline Children Services, feels that our income is sufficient and is going to bat for us with the homestudy agency.  Please pray about this situation.  We cannot move forward until our homestudy is complete.

On another note, the reason Lifeline cannot do our homestudy is because they are not licensed in North Carolina...yet.  They are working hard to get an office licensed in our State and have hired a director already.  They are saying it will be soon.  We just don't know when "soon" will be!  Please pray about this as well, because if this were to happen in the next could of months, we would possibly be able to have them do our homestudy rather than a third party agency!

I do not know which way God will work this out.  I do not have the ability to control my income at this point, so it will just have to be enough.  I also know that there are other families with income challenges that have successfully completed the adoption process.  We would greatly appreciate your prayers for this hurtle.  In case I have been a little unclear, the prayer needs are.

1. A way to increase our income.
2. Final approval from Amazing Grace Adoption regarding our Homestudy
3. The quick licensing of Lifeline for work in North Carolina.

If you have any questions or comments of encouragement, feel free to email us or leave a comment on the blog.  Thanks for all those who have offered support so far.  If you are interested in helping in a financial way, view our Ways You Can Help page.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Facing The Giants of Adoption

We are learning that there are giants along the path to adoption.  The largest one so far has been the financial one, but we are seeing him toppled, little by little. More recently the giant has come in the form of pressure to conform.  Let me explain.

As we have been trying to schedule our home study we were referred to a specific organization in North Carolina.  Our placement agency, as you may know, is in Alabama and cannot do our home study.  I contacted the agency and had a very nice talk with the social worker who would be doing the home study.  She knew our placement agency well, and was excited to help us.  She emailed us some basic information to look over and sign and return.  Wonderful!

Then we received the information.  It all looked very standard, until my wife pointed out a certain paragraph in the client agreement form.  This paragraph included some language specific to discipline in our home.  I won't go into more detail then that, but it was worded in such a way that it made us quite uncomfortable.  Immediately the giant poked his ugly head into the room.  I began to worry. "What if this is the law?  What if we have to sign this in order to adopt?"  These questions and more were swirling around as the giant danced through our living room.

I contacted our placement agency and asked what we should do. I asked if the paragraph was standard and if it was part of the Hague Convention.  They responded that the language in that paragraph was certainly not Hague language and that we should contact the home study agency and ask whether this part of the agreement was mandatory in order for them to do our home study.  I was. In fact, the lady gave me the impression that if I held my ground on my beliefs I would very likely be denied the adoption by Hungary. That giant sure did look taller than before.  I was told that most people just sign the document even if they don't intend to comply.  I call that lying.  I don't believe God would be honored by doing that.  However, if others had done it...maybe this was the accepted practice.  I couldn't see how.  There must be another way.

My wife and I took the matter to the Lord in prayer.  Yesterday, Lifeline contacted me with the information for another placement agency in NC.  This agency is a Christian agency, licensed to do home studies, and is Hague certified.  I called them.  They assured me they had no such clause, and that as a Christian agency, they fully supported our beliefs.  I will withhold the name of the agency for the time being since we still must be formally approved by them before starting the home study process.  I hung up the phone while driving home, rolled down the window, and threw the giant out.  He fit easily out the window, since he was now no more than a midget!

Why am I sharing this?  What if something still goes wrong?  No doubt something will.  There are giants all throughout this land.  As a Christian, I believe the God that loves the orphans and has commanded us to love and take care of them as well, will take care of any giants that happen to show up.  I just wanted to encourage those of you who may be watching our journey, and considering adoption yourself, but are afraid.  Don't be afraid.  Come on in...the water's fine.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers in the months ahead.  Thanks!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Dreaded Home Study!

Probably the part most people dread about adoption is the Home Study.  Even those words strike dread into the hearts of most people.  I guess the words conjure up images of white glove wearing Gestapo agents carrying Sherlock Holmes's magnifying glass while examining your home for any trace of dirt, and digging through your life just looking for a reason to disqualify you!  Even though this perception is not the reality, there is still some nervousness about the process.

Truthfully, my wife and I are not overly excited about this part of the process.  My wife especially is a very private person, so even blogging about this process is out of the box for her!  We would covet your thoughts and prayers as we go through the process of choosing our Home Study agency.  Here is how it works for us.

Since our placement agency is in a different state, we need to have a Home Study agency licensed in North Carolina to perform this service.  Lifeline (our placement agency) has recommended an agency in North Carolina and we are currently having some discussions with them do determine if they are the ones we will use.  The choice of the Home Study agency is very important, because these people will be in your life for the next few months to a year or more, helping you to get approved.  You need to feel comfortable with the people for sure!

Right now we are looking to use Carolina Adoption Services.  If you are a "local" and know of another good Christian agency that does Home Studies, please let us know as soon as you can.  We would like to move forward as quickly as is prudent because this part of the process can last at least four months.

Please pray for us as we continue.  I am so excited about what God is doing and how He has provided thus far.  I know that He will need to do a miracle before we are done, but I believe He will!  If I can answer any questions, I would be happy to do so.  Please leave a comment below and let us know you are reading this blog.  We have dozens of visitors a day, and we would love to hear from you.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

What to Do When One Door Closes

Have you ever heard that old saying, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window."?  I think the first time I heard that was watching The Sound of Music when I was a little boy.  I didn't understand it then.  It makes more sense as an adult.

Our family has been on quite a journey lately.  I promised an update a while back and will do my best to fill you in now.  It is such a blessing to have all of you reading this blog.  Thank you for your donations and your encouragement.  Maybe our story will encourage you in some way.

At the beginning of December, as we began the process in earnest with Lifeline Children's Services (Our placement agency) we began to get some information that led us to believe we may have to reconsider our choice of adopting from Peru.  We began praying about this as we went through numerous telephone calls with the workers at Lifeline.  Ultimately, after one very long weekend in the December, we had a long talk with the Peru representative from Lifeline.  Her name is Iris, and she is a very wonderful person.  The long and the short of it is that due to the situation in Peru, as well as some upcoming changes from the Peruvian government, we were told that if we went ahead with Peru we would very likely, "I think the words they used were definitely." be adopting a moderate to severe special needs child.  While both Erika and I believe these are very precious children, we did not feel that this was a commitment we could make.

Our hearts were very heavy because we had already been dreaming about the new member of our family, and this was quite a setback.  Lifeline recommended that we not go with the Peru program any farther.  It began to look as if we would not only not be adopting from Peru, but that we may have to find another agency, which was just as heartbreaking.  The folks at Lifeline are just wonderful, and we hated the thought of having to begin again with someone else.

We had one final conversation in which another program from Lifeline was recommended, and we were put in contact with the social worker from that country.  After a conversation of over an hour, we asked to pray about it for another day.  Both my wife and I felt that this program was God opening another door, after closing the Peruvian door.  We sent in the necessary paperwork and application fee and while on vacation in Florida we received the phone-call and email letting us know we had been accepted into the program.  Praise the Lord!

So where does that leave us? of now, it looks like our direction has been changed and we have been accepted into the Hungary Program.  I know...Hungary is a long way from Peru.  It was not a place we had even considered!  We feel at peace about this decision and wanted now to let our readers know.  We are still sharing half of the proceeds from the Walk of Hope with the orphanage in Peru as we had committed to, and we wanted to assure everyone of that.

So what lessons have we learned?

  • God can really throw you a curve ball sometimes!
  • Sometimes things don't work out the way you planned.
  • When God closes a door, somewhere He opens another door.

You may have noticed that the new title of our blog is not "Our Road to Hungary...and Back Again."  This is another lesson we learned.  Don't count your chickens before they hatch!  I did decide to leave the web address the same  I figured this could be a good reminder of how things work out sometimes as well as an opportunity to start discussions with people who find our blog and wonder why we are adopting from Hungary with Peru in our web address!  If you have some insight or comments you would like to send, please feel free to leave a comment below.  We would like to here from you!

On Monday we will be sending in our first payment of $1500 dollars to Lifeline and that will pretty much drain us as far as funding.  Our next big expense will be the Home Study which can run from $800 - $1500.  We really are not sure yet, as we are waiting on the Lifeline case worker to contact us.  Please pray with us about this cost.  If you would like to help, click on the donate button on the right hand side of the screen and donate directly through PayPal.  Personal checks can be mailed to:

Mark & Erika Foster
P.O. Box 477 Holly Ridge, NC. 28445

As always, if you have any questions, please call me at 910-742-4888