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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Organizing All Those Papers!

While we are once again in one of the many waiting phases of the adoption process, I thought I would share how I am keeping track of all the papers that come with adoption.  As those who are "there" or have been through adoption know that the application you fill out to get a placement agency is just the beginning of what has been accurately referred to as the paper pregnancy.  If, like us, you have a placement agency that is not licensed in your state for the home study (well, they are now, so Yay! for those who will come after us but not so helpful for us :D ), there is the paperwork for your placement agency, your home study agency, grant applications (which can be a ton if you fill this out for several places), dossier paperwork, referral papers, and of course, all that goes into the final adoption before, during, and after travel.  Add to that what is needed to obtain Social Security cards after the adoption, birth certificates, and the re-adoption process and by the end of the whole  process, you begin to feel like you need a signature stamp and new fingers, hands, and wrists because yours are so exhausted from staying in the same position for hours to get it all done.  Most of this cannot be done via computer, so it is done by hand.

Early in this process, I made a notebook to keep track of everything in one place.  The only adoption information that is not kept there is our final home study and anything we held on to for our dossier that is certified (marriage license, birth certificates). We keep these things locked up and put away for safe keeping.
I took a regular 1-1/2" (maybe 2") notebook, printed a few things from the internet regarding the country we are adopting from, and inserted them into the side, front, and back of the notebook.  The front of the notebook actually has a paper with Hungary's information on it from our placement agency.  Since I do not have permission to use their photos/information, I substituted the map photo (below, right) to give you an idea what could go on your notebook.  The back photo is the Hungarian calendar year and includes the names and dates of this years holiday celebrations in Hungary.

The inside of our adoption notebook has tabs for each part of the adoption that we have either already completed or are in the middle of going through now.  I will add more tabs as we progress or need another place for specific information. I thought I had it set up in alphabetical order until I began taking photos of it.  Ha ha!  It is not alphabetized, but that is a good idea too. :)
 Each section has a tab
 Following is a brief explanation for each tab.  I use page protectors for each section and often keep more than one page of information in each page protector.  For example, if there are ten pages that are all about the same thing in one section, I use one page protector for all those pages and pull it out if I need to look at it.  It saves space in the notebook, while still keeping everything together, and saves money (for all those page protectors).

The first tab has information for CAS, our home-study agency. It includes their fee sheet, contact information with name, address, email address, etc. and any other papers they game us.  

 The second tab is our dossier information.  This included the list of things I needed to gather for our dossier and this is where I put each piece of information or form as I collected it.  When we got ready to send our dossier to Lifeline, everything I needed was in one place, and I gathered it all up and put it in the envelope to mail.  

The third tab is for Lifeline, our placement agency.  This is the same as the CAS tab, except is has all fees and information we have been given for Lifeline.  Since our dossier went to Lifeline, it could have been included with Lifeline's information, but it was just easier for me to make a separate tab for that.

The fourth tab is exactly what it sounds like. In it I keep any information I need regarding past or current fundraisers for this adoption.  One of our fundraisers was written up in a local paper, so I have a copy of the newspaper in a sheet protector in that tab.

 2013 and 2014 have different page protectors

The fifth tab is used to collect receipts for adoption related expenses to be used for tax purposes after the adoption is completed.  As seen below, one page protector is being used for 2013 receipts and a second one is set up for 2014.  We hope to not have one for 2015. :D

The sixth tab contains Grant Application information.  When I come across an application/site from where we can apply for a grant, I print the application and file it there until we can get it filled out and mailed.  We sent out a half a dozen applications last fall, and I have a few more applications that are printed and waiting to be filled out.  In my opinion, it saves time to do one thing at a time.  Focus for a few days (hours, weeks, etc.) on finding grants that you can apply for, then print and/or save the application(s) in one place, and then spend the time filling them out all at once.  I keep a sticky note on applications that have specific deadlines for getting an application out, and I also have one or two right now that have a note on them stating that they cannot be sent out until we have a referral.  This saves me from looking that up every time I see the application because I already know when I can mail it.

The seventh (and last, so far) tab USCIS information we received in it.  Our fingerprinting appointment notices are kept in there and anything else we may receive before the completed adoption will go there.  We do not keep our official immigration approval here.  It is kept with our original home study in a safer place than a notebook on a baking rack. :)

I hope this idea will help you keep track of everything.  If you have another idea to add, please comment so that others can benefit from it too!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Exciting News

This is our first post in 2014, and I am excited to begin the year with some great news!  We have been approved for an adoption grant from Show Hope. 
 I was in our church kitchen this morning with some of the other ladies from our church, cleaning things up and reorganizing, when Mark came running into the room and just pointed to a dollar amount on the page.  We have been awarded  $7000!!!!  This will go a long way towards the next big fee we have coming up - the $12,500  due before travel and is a true answer to prayer.  Thank you again to everyone who has prayed and is praying, for we believe that your prayers are making a difference!  God has been so good to us and is even providing for some of our upcoming needs before they are due! With the exception of a few hundred dollars, all of the money we are earning or raising right now for adoption expenses is going to cover overseas expenses.  (You can see a list of some of these fees on our ways you can help page.) We are very grateful to the donors at Show Hope who are investing in the life the child we have yet to meet.  We are also grateful for all the information provided to us by Show Hope regarding parenting and understanding the child that will soon be joining our family (this was given to us for just applying through them and was not at all related to receiving a grant).

And a dossier update...

The facilitator for Hungary was out of town over the holidays and is back now, so our dossier was to be sent out this past week to him for translation.  We will keep you posted on how this progresses!