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Monday, November 2, 2015

November Update

Hello all!  It has been a couple months since we last updated this, so we thought that we would let you know what has been going on with the adoption.  Things have calmed down recently as the paperwork has been completed and we wait for our referral. We are enjoying the increase in down time and have been making the most of this time before our children come home.

We don't have much to say in terms of updates on our process and at this point it's basically a waiting game.  It has been fun, however, to connect with other couples working with our agency who are further along in the process than we are.  This past Friday night we actually got to meet some friends at the airport as they were bringing their new children home from the same country we will be adopting from!  It was incredibly powerful to experience this, and we are so excited to someday share that moment with our friends and family.  We are thankful for the wonderful community we have through our adoption agency and are grateful for the lifelong friendships we have built.

This past month, we sold our last MudLove bracelet, bringing our total up to 600!  That number is a little crazy and we have been blown away by all of you buying these.  Thank you so much!  The amount of money we raised by selling these more than covers two round-trip plane tickets to Eastern Europe, so this is a big deal.  Your generosity continues to amaze us!

During our Trivia Night/Silent Auction this past March, some friends surprised us with shirts that they had designed for our adoption.  Many of you have asked about these and whether or not they were available for purchase.  We have decided that we would like make them available for those who are interested.

If you would like to order one, we have two design options to choose from (see picture below).  Thank you to our dear friends for both of these designs!  Shirts can be ordered by clicking here and completing the form.  We will be taking orders until 11/23 and we will be placing the order shortly thereafter.  The cost is $15 per shirt, with an extra $5 if you would like it shipped.  (Note to Berne and St. Louis residents: we will be in town over the holidays and can deliver your shirts to you at that time to save you the shipping costs.  If you live in the Indy area, we will deliver them to you as well.)  If you are interested in ordering more than one shirt, you will need to fill out a separate form for each shirt.  Payment will need to be received by 11/23 in order for your shirt(s) to be ordered.

On the gray shirt, the heart is located over the capital of our children's birth country.  On the green shirt, the funny looking word underneath the word "Home" is the word for home in our children's native language.


Thank you all for continuing to check in with us regarding our adoption process.  We love the questions, and never get tired of telling people all about it!  Your support and encouragement makes this wait easier to bear.

Love,

Scott and Mary

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 7th


Hi All!

We are comin' at ya with an exciting update! As we previously posted, we submitted our dossier to our adoption agency on June 16th (Happy 30th birthday to Scott on that day, too!). They told us that it would be sent to Eastern Europe and we should expect to be on the registry in country in approximately 8 weeks. What does it mean to be on the registry? That means that the dossier is officially translated, reviewed, and approved - live and available to be matched with an orphan(s). As a matter of routine, they do not notify us when we're registered. It is kind of the "no news is good news" type of thing for the 2-3 months following the dossier being submitted. They said they would notify us if it was missing anything or hit any snags, but otherwise we were to assume it was registered around 8 weeks following submission.

They also told us that if we asked about it being registered, they would be able to ask the agency overseas and find out the date we were registered. We knew from approximately day 1 of this process that we would be asking :). We  Mary knew that  we  she would need to know the date for our her sanity.

So we Mary decided to wait until it had been ten weeks and then ask for the long-awaited confirmation that we were registered! 10 weeks was this past Tuesday and our agency was able to get a response from overseas in record time... and... drumroll please... 

AUGUST 7th!!! 
Our dossier was translated, approved, and went "live" on August 7th! WAHOO!!!

This is significant for a lot of reasons: 
1. There were no hiccups with our paperwork and all was in order and complete
2. There were no delays with translation or review
3. We are able to be matched with our children AT ANY TIME!!!
4. See #3
5. #3 is really important. 



So, what is next? Now, we wait. We officially wait for that beautiful day when we receive a phone call notifying us that we've been matched to our children. While the wait is arguably the most difficult part of this process, we are relieved to be to this point. We've had a long road to have a family and this wait feels incredible because even though we don't know how long it will be, we are confident that this wait will result in meeting the children we know God has planned for us. 

In the meantime, we're doing a lot of continuing education - books, podcasts, etc. - and becoming as prepared as possible to be parents. We are also enjoying this time together and with Leo as we know these will be the last handful of months that it's "just the three of us."

Common question: How long? We do not know how long the wait will be. Average wait time from now to a match is around a year. So, we will see! We told ourselves from the beginning that this wait would be at least a year, so we are working on being mentally and emotionally prepared for this time (though it is a daily decision to practice that patience we have been taught over the years!).

Before long, we will work to post a timeline of what the process has looked like so far. We are thankful that people have been encouraged to consider adoption through our story and have asked what the total timeline looks like - we will plan on posting that soon as this post is getting a little long already :). 

We are excited to add August 7th to the list of exciting days on this journey to adopt! 

Thank you again for all of your incredible love and support. 

Scott and Mary

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Garage Sale


Hi All, 

Thanks again for checking in! We wanted to write another update since we had a hugely successful weekend in regards to fundraising. 
Garage Sale!

When we started brainstorming fundraising options late 2014/early 2015 with our families, the idea of a spring or summer garage sale came up and we decided it would be a great option! When the dust settled from all the paperwork and getting our dossier off to Eastern Europe, we finally felt ready to tackle this next event. We set a date and then put a message out to our family and friends on facebook asking if anyone had anything they planned to get rid of and would like to donate to the sale. We were, once again, overwhelmed by the response! Next thing we knew, our garage was literally packed to the brim with donations of furniture, clothing, home decor, kitchen stuff, etc.  Once we started organizing it all, the items continued to pour in and our garage and living room were like a tetris game - precisely packed with the makings of one EPIC garage sale. Thank goodness the "Hoarders" tv crew wasn't around... we would have made an appearance for sure. 

Driveway Side 1
Driveway Side 2
  



Aisle 1

We worked every night for a week organizing all of the items into categories. We even put a few of the bigger items on Craig's List before the sale as we ran out of room to store everything, even for just a few days. Folks, we cannot explain to you how much stuff we had - it. was. incredible. A couple of days before the sale, some friends and family came over to help us put prices on everything. We also borrowed tables, bins, clothing rods, etc. from friends and family - this was truly a team effort! Finally Friday was upon us and we woke up ready to go at 5:30 am. We put up signs all over the area directing people to the sale and started setting up the sale out in the driveway and yard. Mary was a little stressed at first because honestly, it didn't look like it would all fit in the driveway, garage, and yard. BUT, we made it! We created a couple of aisles and everything. 




Aisle 2


The sale was awesome. We had a steady stream of shoppers for two days straight. We had people we didn't even know making donations to the adoption without even purchasing a thing from the sale - humbled is an understatement. We are so grateful to everyone who came out. We had family and friends there to help and keep us company both days, people who drove from all over central Indiana to come and show their support, and lots of phone calls and messages anxiously awaiting updates. Like every step of this process, it has been the most overwhelming and incredible thing to see the support and encouragement for our family and for orphans across the world. We are so blessed to have such a team with us on this journey. Thank you so much!!






David and Grandma modeling a sale item and being cashiers!

The garage sale raised over $1,900. WHAT? Yes. Incredible. The cost of adopting can feel huge, but we take it one step at a time and it has all come together and been such an awesome blessing. An average round trip plane ticket to Eastern Europe is about $1500-$1800, so the garage sale will pay for one of our tickets, plus a good chunk of another. Or, another way to look at it, a one way flight from Eastern Europe to America is around $900, so the garage sale paid for two children to come home when we are matched!!

Another awesome weekend in our journey to a family!

Thank you for all of your incredible support!
Lots of love and gratitude, 
Mary and Scott

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Love Crosses Oceans... and so does our dossier!!!



Hello everyone!

Well, today is the day we've been waiting for since we started this journey (besides, of course, the day we are matched to our children and bring them home). 


Our dossier is heading across the ocean this week!! 

Hallelujah! We are so excited and THRILLED to be sharing this news!!!

As we described in our last post, we received our USCIS approval over Memorial Day weekend and have been waiting on one final document from the FBI to come in the mail to finish our dossier. Well, I saw that beautiful little envelope peeking out of the stack of mail this past Thursday and there it was! We immediately called our agency to let them know we had everything back, including notaries and apostilles, and were ready to rock and roll! Our program director at the agency met with us today to go over everything and we were given a green light!! 
We got our last document!!!

Here are what the next steps look like:


Our program director reviewed our paperwork today and confirmed we have all we need. She will request a signed agreement from our agency in Eastern Europe today. (Sidenote: We have two adoption agencies - one that represents us here with the U.S. and one that represents us in the country we are adopting from). This agreement allows the other agency to represent us in that country. They will send back the signed agreement within 48 hours and then our dossier will be shipped to Eastern Europe (EE). Once in EE, they will translate our entire dossier and check again for anything that is missing. Once it is translated and all in order, our dossier will be registered with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in EE. The MOJ are who govern adoptions in EE and are in charge of matching adoptive families with orphans. Once we are on the registry, we could be matched to our children at any time. When we are matched, we'll travel within a month to EE to meet our children. We will then come home after being there for 1-2 weeks and fly back to bring them home approximately 4-6 months later, once the entire legal process has run its course in EE.
Average wait time from the time we drop our dossier off with our agency (which was today) to the time of a match is currently running 15.3 months. It may be longer, may be shorter, but that is their average right now.
Two original sets, a copy, and a digital copy of our dossier. Mary and Scott in paper form :)
So, to put it briefly: Now, we wait. All of our paperwork is completed and on its way... we just anxiously wait to be matched to our sweet little ones. 

Love crosses oceans

We appreciate the incredible support and encouragement we have received beyond words. From the encouraging messages, the financial support, attendance at our trivia night, mudlove bracelets, etc. - it has all truly meant the world to us. We have the most amazing team with us on this journey and we cannot say thank you enough! We are so blessed to share this exciting milestone with you!

Love, 
Scott and Mary


Monday, May 25, 2015

USCIS Approval!


Hello! We hope you're having a relaxing and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. 

We have a BIG news to share with everyone and are thrilled to have such a significant update... 


OUR APPROVAL FROM THE USCIS HAS ARRIVED!!! 

That's right... I'll say it again... 


OUR APPROVAL FROM THE USCIS HAS ARRIVED!!!

On Friday, we received our approval in the mail and are ECSTATIC! This approval is the last (and most important) piece of our dossier and we've been waiting for weeks for this short little piece of mail to show up in our mailbox. 


Yes, I took a picture of the approval. :) YAYAYAY!!!


The USCIS approval is, in short, the U.S. government deeming us suitable to adopt up to three children from Eastern Europe. It's a bit of a process to obtain this approval. You have to have a completed home study, then you submit the application to the government, then they send you an appointment time to go have more fingerprints done at the USCIS office (think BMV type of place with armed guards and metal detectors... including grumpy people and few smiles), then you wait for the approval letter to come. This can take anywhere from 1-4 months, so while we knew the approval could come at any time, we didn't really have a good idea of when that would be. We submitted the application on 4/4, had our appointment for fingerprints a couple weeks later, and got the approval letter on 5/22. We are so thankful to have been on the shorter end of the approximate time frame! Like we said in our last post, obtaining this approval is one of the last steps to getting our dossier across the ocean, so we're excited to be one step closer to that day!

While we've been waiting on our USCIS approval, we've been busy preparing the rest of our dossier, which includes a lot of additional paperwork, medical approvals, education documentation, etc. We have everything ready to go now that we have our USCIS approval, so we're ready for the final steps of preparing our dossier. This will include having everything notarized and apostilled. Both of those steps should just take a couple of days, then we just have to check off our final FBI background checks and it'll all be mailed to Eastern Europe. Once the dossier is in Eastern Europe, it'll take approximately 8 weeks to be translated, then we'll go on the registry in that country to be matched with our children. 
Organizing dossier paperwork.

The last handful of weeks have been exciting in more ways than just approvals and paperwork mania. We completed our adoption education and also attended an open house with our adoption agency for families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from our country in Eastern Europe. 

The adoption education was super helpful and interesting for us. We loved hearing from other adoptive families about their journeys and the trials and triumphs during their children's first months of life in the U.S. We learned a lot about what to focus on and what unique needs our children will have being that they will come from another country, culture, and environment. We learned techniques for parenting that we will carry with us and work to implement with our children. We know we still have a lot to learn, but are thankful for the education we have been provided from our agency and are anxious to keep learning more. We plan to re-read the information our agency gave us at least once, and also take suggestions and read recommendations from family friends of us ours that have adopted internationally. 

The open house that our adoption agency hosted was for all families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from the country we have chosen in Eastern Europe. We were nervous to go as we really didn't know anyone, but were very excited to connect with others along this journey. It was the BEST day! We got there and immediately sat down with a family that we spent the rest of the afternoon talking with. They brought two of their five children (boy/girl siblings) home about nine months ago and we absolutely loved hearing all about their journey. We pummeled them with questions for two hours straight :). We talked with their kids, as well as several other children who have come home, over the course of the afternoon. We asked everything from how the children were handling the transition emotionally, physically, etc., to how the food was when they traveled. The couple we talked with were so willing to address every anxiety we had and so joyfully shared their adoption story. We learned about the discrimination against the children that this couple witnessed first-hand when visiting and picking their children up to come home. We learned about the language barriers (we were so impressed that in nine months of being home, the children spoke nearly perfect English), the educational differences, the social difficulties, etc. 
We left feeling so encouraged and (we didn't even know this was possible) even MORE sure this is the absolute definite path we are meant to be on. We know our children are chosen and we cannot wait to be united with them as a family. We are looking forward to going to an open house in the future and introducing our children to a nervous couple embarking on this journey. 

Thank you for walking this journey with us. It is so exciting to share these updates with an incredible team of supporters - we are so blessed and so thankful!

Love,
Scott and Mary






Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Say Paper...

... you say WORK!

PAPER... (I'll assume you just screamed WORK!).

Hi there!

We have a lot to update you on since trivia night, so this will be a lengthy post - consider yourself warned. :)

March brought some exciting updates in the process of getting our paperwork to Eastern Europe. First and foremost, our home study was approved! We received the draft from our agency after meeting with them a couple of times, made a couple of updates to what they had done, then sent it back. It was approved through all the proper channels and we picked up the four copies that we'll need in the coming month or two. Woohoo!! The home study is a large and important chunk of what will go to Eastern Europe, so it's a big deal that that step is complete. CHECK!

Once our home study was approved, we received our second big step from the agency - dossier prep paperwork. The dossier is the packet of paperwork that will go to Eastern Europe to be a "profile" of us that will be reviewed by the powers-that-be to match us with our children. The dossier includes a lot of biographical information us, but also a lot of legal paperwork and background information. So, we've been diligently working on that! We had our fingerprints done again (3rd time and counting) for an FBI background check, filled out another checklist of characteristics we are seeking for our family (2-3 children, ages 5 and under, etc.), did a "condense your home study into a one page document" application, applied for new copies of our marriage license (have to have new ones), talked with our doctor for some additional check offs from him, etc. It's been a lot and slightly daunting after doing what I thought was the mega-load of paperwork for the home study. But, all is moving along well! Several of these items take time to get as we have to submit paperwork to retrieve it, send money, yadda yadda yadda, but it's going well. We just about have everything that we need to gather, then we'll take it all to get certified (more on that in a minute).  

We did have a laugh today... we received the copies of our marriage license and check it out:

I, Mary Ann Eckertett, take you Scott Andrew DeArmond...


A couple things that are especially funny are that my last name is spelled wrong, and also that it's an 'authenticated copy' of our original marriage license... really? Because on our marriage license my name is spelled right. They also spelled our marriage official's name wrong on the original and correctly on this "copy"... So yeah, we'll be calling them on Monday. Try again, please, clerk's office!

In addition to all of the paperwork we are gathering, included in our dossier will be approval from the USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services) to adopt. This, obviously, is a huge deal. Without this approval, we do not adopt. The first step in the dossier prep was getting that application sent to the USCIS and we did that as soon as our home study was approved (they review your home study as part of that application). That generally takes 1-4 months to be approved (hello, huge window of time!) and we use that time to gather all of the rest of the documents. We received mail this week from the USCIS and I about fell out of my chair... did we just win an award for fastest approval EVER?... it was just a notice that they received our application. Oh. Ok... well that's good at least :).

Next steps: once we receive our approval from USCIS (you'll hear us scream excitement across the country, so you'll know that day when it comes), we take the approval notice and all of the other dossier documents we have gathered and all of them will be notarized and then apostilled. That will likely take a little bit of time to get it all apostilled, but after that - it's off to Eastern Europe!! WAHOO!!! Our agency told us it generally takes 4-6 months to get the dossier to the country you're adopting from and we are right on that schedule. Depending on how long it takes to get our USCIS approval, we anticipate having our dossier submitted by July at the latest (which would be 6 months). 

The other piece of the journey we've been working on in addition to dossier prep is education. We have education from our agency and also from the National Council for Adoption (NCFA). We just finished our NCFA education today - yay!! We only have two more classes from our agency to complete and then a book to read and the requirements will be met. That's exciting because education has to be complete prior to dossier submission, so that's another step complete! We do plan to continue our education, though, as we want to learn as much as we can before we bring our children home. We have really enjoyed this part of the process - the education has been very insightful for us and helped us to gain insight into what unique needs our children will have and how we can best transition both our children and ourselves into life as a family of 4-5. We have learned so much and are excited to continue that process as we anxiously await our match. 

Another event we have been very anxious for is for Dad Eckert to shave his head!! Back in January, Mary's Uncle Jim challenged us to raise $2500 into our AdoptTogether account by March 13th - he said that if we did, we should get Dad to shave his head and Dad agreed!! As another fun bonus, Uncle Jim said he would shave his head for $5000. Thanks to everyone's INCREDIBLE generosity, we reached our goals and Dad shaved his head a couple of weeks ago! It was a fun night celebrating! We know it's a fun thing for Dad to shave his head, but what this meant to us was very serious - the love, support, and encouragement is absolutely incredible! Thank you so much to everyone!!
Before!
During

After!!!!
Thank you for your support, Grandpa!!!

The other thing we've been up to since our last post was a cruise!!! Mom and Dad DeArmond treated our entire family to a beautiful cruise to Key West and Cozumel at the end of March/beginning of April and it was an incredible trip. We left on our 6th anniversary and what a great celebration! We had such a wonderful time with our family and enjoyed the sun, sand, and warm weather. We are so thankful for their generosity - we are diligently saving for the adoption, so of course a vacation was out of the question! Being able to take a week to reconnect, enjoy time with family, and get away was so refreshing and just what we needed. 
Off the ship in Cozumel

Key West!

Needless to say, we've been busy!! While it does get overwhelming at times, we are so thankful to be working on this process - there will never be a more important journey than bringing our children home and we are joyfully doing whatever it takes to get there. We know that soon, we will "just" be waiting for a match and going crazy with nothing to do... so until that time, here's to paperwork!! 

We will leave you with this, one of our favorite pictures from our awesome week on the cruise... 

 Love certainly does cross oceans... 



Until next time, 
Scott and Mary

























Monday, March 9, 2015

Unforgettable


Saturday was an evening we will never forget. This weekend left a mark on our lives that is truly incredible and we will never be able to express what it meant to us.

When we first announced to our families that we planned to pursue international adoption, fundraising came up quickly as part of the conversation. While we were resistant at first (it can be awkward and uncomfortable), we quickly realized that in order to pay the fees associated with bringing our children home in the relatively near future, we would need to ask for help in some form or fashion to supplement our savings plan – fundraising, grants, loans, etc. We attended a seminar through our adoption agency on affording adoption early in our process and learned a lot about all of the different ways to raise funds; this started the discussion on how we would move forward, step by step, to make this part of the adoption process a reality.

Mary’s family had the idea of a trivia night and silent auction and ran with it from the start. The planning started around Christmas and the outpouring of support was overwhelming from the beginning. Donations of silent auction items and reservations to attend came pouring in and the next couple of months were full of plans and excitement. Saturday finally arrived and we had 28 silent auction items with 115 seats reserved – this was well beyond what we could have even hoped for! The event was such a fun time – Scott and I loved seeing teams of people from all areas of our lives come together to have such a fun evening playing trivia! We had people there from all over the country to support adoption – our family and friends traveled from all over Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and Kansas to come to this event. We wished we had the time to sit down and talk for hours with every single table – it was so fun to have such a tremendous team there in support of adoption and in support of our family! Like we've said many times before – it takes a village to raise a child and we were so thankful for this time with our “village” this weekend.

Our families ran this event – from writing the trivia, purchasing/baking all of the food, checking people in, setting up, tearing down, managing the 50/50 raffle, keeping the food stocked, etc. – the event was a success thanks to our family. We cannot say how truly grateful we are for all of the time, money, and effort they put into this event!!!

From the fundraising perspective, this event went beyond what we could have EVER imagined. Close to $8,000 was donated on Saturday night through ticket sales, the silent auction, MudLOVE bracelet sales, 50/50 raffle, and additional donations. Like we said… speechless. We are adopting a sibling group (will explain more below), which will be approximately $40,000 in fees. To raise 20% of our total cost in one evening? Absolutely incredible. Your generosity and hearts for adoption have humbled us in ways we cannot explain. We appreciate your support more than words would ever be able to say. You have all left an impression on us & our families that will last a lifetime.

We have some significant updates on the process, too!

Our home study draft is complete! Woohoo!! We met with the agency again last Wednesday to finalize any remaining questions they had, then they sent us our home study draft on Friday afternoon! We are in the process of reading through it and making any edits we need to – it will go back and forth like that between us and the agency until everyone feels good and then it’ll be complete! Yay! Once that is finalized, then we start on our dossier paperwork. In the meantime, we also get to start on our education and we are very excited for that. We received our education plan when we met with them and are anxious to get going on it. We are excited to learn about parenting, parenting adopted children specifically, and all about different techniques, stressors, etc. More to come on that as we complete it!

A very significant update that comes as part of our home study is our wish to adopt a sibling group. We have said all along that we were open to a sibling group, but what we did not anticipate as part of the home study process was the recommendation of putting that we were looking to adopt a sibling group specifically. Instead of, for example, putting that we are looking to adopt 1-3 children, we now have that we are looking to adopt 2-3 children. So, a match to an individual child is highly unlikely since we have made that more specific. While we are certainly open to an individual child, they urged us to be very specific, which led to us the indication of a sibling group. So now, our reference to “our children” rather than “our child” is very purposeful! From the beginning of our adoption process, we have felt very led to being open to a sibling group, but for some reason taking the leap to putting that into our home study felt like a huge one. Rather than a sibling group being a “possibility”, it quickly became a reality as it is in our home study and will eventually go to Eastern Europe as part of our paperwork.

You might be tired of hearing it, but we will never be tired of saying thank you. We feel that our words fall so short of expressing our true gratitude to all of you for your support, encouragement, generosity, and prayers. We are so thankful for our village.


Love,
Mary and Scott



A few pictures from trivia night!

So excited for an incredible evening!

One of my best friends, Megan!


Best friends that came all the way from Ohio!

Full house for trivia!

My Dad emcee'd the evening and ran the trivia!

Sarah modeling all of our beautiful MudLOVE options! Bracelet MVP/Coordinator

The winning trivia team - so fun!

Sarah doing what she does best... bracelets!
Dinner time! Our families kept all of our guests fed and entertained!

My awesome brother and sister helping to run the event!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Good Point


Thanks again for checking in!

We wanted to write an update because this week we've taken some steps forward in the process and wanted to keep you in the loop.

Remember the binder-o-documents we discussed in the last post? Well, we finalized that and turned it in last Monday. It was approved (which basically means we had everything in it we needed) and we were contacted within 24 hours to schedule our first home study visit! That was scheduled for today and we just finished meeting with two representatives from our agency. I was anticipating them walking through our house, asking if we had smoke detectors, making sure everything was clean, and flushing all the toilets to ensure they were in proper working order. Turns out, they did tour our house (which took about 5 minutes), but the majority of the time was spent answering questions. The agency asked us questions about ourselves, our upbringing, our plans for discipline, our jobs, what we hope our children will grow up to be like, what parenting fears we have, etc. I'll be honest, it was fun :). It's fun to dream and be asked to talk about it. These are conversations we have all the time - conversations about the kind of parents we want to be, what we're excited about, what we're afraid of, etc.. But to get asked to talk about them was exciting! So anyways, we answered a bunch of questions and then scheduled home study visit #2 for a week from today. Once they review what we went over today, next week will be to follow up on anything and finalize the information they need to write the home-study. Once our interviews are done next week, our home-study should be written and through all the approvals (has to go back and forth a bit between us and the agency) within about a month. YAY!!

Once the home-study is complete, we move on to dossier prep. More on that later (because we don't know what all that entails yet, either!). 

The visit today with the agency was exciting. It was also a thought-provoking time for us. Not only because we were asked things like "what would you do differently in parenting than your parents did?", but because we had the opportunity to hear some "cautions" from our agency. I appreciate our agency because they paint, what we feel, is a very realistic picture of international adoption. They have done this since our initial information session and throughout the process so far. When I say "realistic," I don't mean bad. I mean that they want us to be fully informed and understand the good, the bad, and everything in between. We appreciate that. Throughout our fertility journey, the only constant was that things were unknown... we never knew what would happen next, when it would happen, and if it had any chance of "working." We would rather hear the scary parts of international adoption than have an unrealistic idea of what everything will be like. Here's an example. When asked what we're excited about in being parents, I said (among many other things), that I am excited to be "that person" that our children run to when they are scared, or excited, or hurt, or confused, or anything... I'm excited for us to be those people who our children trust completely and love fully, and that we can experience the kind of love and relationship that we've heard only exists between a parent and child. Our agency rep said that she completely understood and agreed with what I was saying, but that she wants to make sure I realize that it won't be like that from the beginning. We will get there, sure, but unlike a biological child who has known their parents as their "go to" since their first breaths, we will be strangers to our children for a bit. They've known life in an orphanage, and to come home to a different country, different smells, tastes, sounds, and with people they're now supposed to call Mom and Dad is confusing. It's unsettling. And we might not be able to comfort them like a parent normally would when their child is scared. We won't have that trust yet. 

Good point. 

It is a lot to think about. This was one of a handful of times during the visit that our agency gave wonderful advice/thoughts. I suppose that is why we did research and chose an agency we trust, right!? They help us think about the things we haven't thought about yet. Of course we knew there would be a transition. We know our children won't know us as Mom and Dad when we first meet them, but sometimes hearing it from someone else makes it finally click. 

The thing is, we can't wait to earn that trust. We can't wait to truly become Mom and Dad to our children. It will not be an easy road to travel, but we're excited to navigate it as a family.  

I feel overwhelmingly thankful to have such a strong team guiding us through this. They're responsive, honest, compassionate, and helpful. They've been there, too. Many of the staff members at our agency have adopted internationally, so they know the emotions and the ups and downs - what a blessing to have people working with us who can relate on a whole new level. 

And hey! Thank YOU for being on this journey with us, too! 

Until next time,
Mary and Scott

Monday, February 9, 2015

February Update!


Thank you for checking in again! We cannot tell you enough how much it means to us that you've taken an interest in our adoption process and we appreciate you continuing to follow along!

We have a lot of things to update you on, so here we go!

The paperwork process is well underway. We submitted our contract and first payment to the adoption agency on January 2nd and by that following Monday, we had our paperwork available and next steps outlined for us. The first big step is the home-study and we have been working on that process since the first full week of January. We originally thought that someone would come to our house, make sure it's safe, and write a little report on that... home-study done. Turns out, we were wrong!! This process has included compiling documents, obtaining legal information, and writing responses to several autobiographical questions, etc. We have gotten our fingerprints taken twice, submitted background check paperwork for Indiana, Ohio, New Mexico, and Northern Ireland, both had physicals, obtained four letters of reference, figured out how to obtain said background check from Northern Ireland (which, turns out, is more difficult than one might think!), took Leo to the vet, and dug up all sorts of paperwork we never even knew we had :). We have compiled all of the needed information and are now submitting that to the agency for review. Once the agency reviews and approves that we have everything they need, a representative will come to our house and conduct interviews with us, check out the physical state of our home, interact with Leo, etc., and then write the home-study report. The report will compile all the information from our binder-o-documents along with what they hear/observe when here and that is what the home-study will consist of. Once that is done, we move on to the next step! The home-study will be part of  the dossier that is submitted to Eastern Europe. The dossier is what the adoption decision-makers will use to match us with a child/children. So, that is where we are in the process! We have been working diligently to get all of the paperwork done as efficiently as possible as we're anxious to get our dossier across the ocean!

Fundraising has been the most incredibly humbling experience of our lives. We cannot tell you all what it has meant to us to receive your bracelet orders, reservations for trivia night, and donations to our AdoptTogether account. We currently have enough in our AdoptTogether and adoption checking accounts to cover our next two payments (one at the time of home-study completion and the other when our dossier is submitted to Eastern Europe). Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is over a third of our total needed and we never expected to be where we are financially right now; we cannot thank you all enough for your incredible generosity.

We are anxious for our home-study to be complete because not only will we be one step closer in the process, but a lot of grant applications require that the home-study be complete before submitting, so once that is done, we will be able to pursue grants more fully as well! Scott also passed his test and has received his insurance license (yay!!) - he'll be starting work in Larry's office soon to earn extra income for the adoption!

The home-study, bracelet sales, and trivia night have kept us busy and we are enjoying every step in this process. We know that there will be a time when we're simply waiting. Waiting to be chosen to be Mom and Dad to a sweet child/children, so we are relishing these days when we can do tangible things to move us closer to that!

In related news, have you all seen our new nephew?? Sweet Henry Michael joined our family on January 30th and we just can't get enough of him :). Spending time with this little man, along with all of our nieces and nephews, makes us even more excited to have our children home with us soon.  




Your prayers, support, and encouragement have meant the world to us and we cannot thank you enough for everything. We have all heard that saying that "it takes a village to raise a child" and that could not be more true for us as we move along this journey. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. 

Love, 
Scott and Mary

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fundraising

Thank you for checking in again! 

Wow. It is an understatement to say that we have been humbled over the last month or so since we announced our plans to adopt internationally. The comments, emails, phone calls, facebook messages, etc. have been overwhelming. Thank you so much for the support. It has truly been a life-changing time for us, and we haven't even adopted our child/children yet! From the bottom of our hearts, we cannot say thank you enough. 

We have gotten a lot of questions recently about fundraising efforts and how our friends and family can support us financially. First of all, thank you for asking about this. We do have a plan (that we know will be fluid and ever-changing!) and would love to share that with you. 

First, we have developed a strict budget that will allow us to set aside a significant amount of money on a monthly basis for our adoption. For us, this means spending less money on "wants" and taking more care to assess a need versus a want. We've decided to cut out a lot of the things that we have become accustomed to doing, like weekend getaways, girls' nights, paintball weekends, etc. We have also taken a summer vacation nearly every year we've been married and this year we're thinking Indianapolis sounds like a sweet destination :). Scott's parents have generously offered to take our entire family on a cruise in March, but aside from that, we plan to stay put at home this year. We have re-evaluated what we spend our money on and will continue doing that in a more intentional way than we have in the past. 

Scott is currently in the process of studying to get his insurance license to work part time with Mary's brother, Larry, in his office. This will be an opportunity for Scott to put some extra money into our adoption account as any income from that endeavor will go straight there. 

We also have a couple of fundraising events currently in the works, and a couple in the future where our friends and family can get involved.

We are currently planning a trivia night/silent auction on March 7th (see previous post!). We are collecting silent auction items and selling tickets to the event. We hope to not only raise money for our adoption through this event, but have a great time as well! Larry Jr. and Larry Sr. are hosting the event... it'll be fun no matter what :). Let us know if you're interested in joining us for this fun evening!

We have purchased 150 bracelets from the company MudLOVE. This an Indiana-based company that sells the bracelets pictured below. MudLOVE is set up to help people with fundraising - we purchase the bracelets at a bulk price and sell them for $10 - this allows us to make a profit for our adoption account through the bracelet sales. The benefit to this fundraiser is two fold - they help us raise money for our adoption, and MudLOVE also provides a week of clean drinking water to someone in Africa for every product purchased. How great is that? Since we just launched our trivia night/silent auction on facebook, we haven't posted a lot about the bracelets, but if you're interested, just let us know! These are the words that are available - they come in a variety of colors (more than are shown in the picture)! The words are on a piece of clay and the bands are adjustable elastic. 


We also have plans to have a garage sale or two this summer with items we have around our house and items that family/friends are looking to get rid of. This fall, a dance-a-thon is in the works, too. T-shirt sales have been another idea we are considering. As the process moves forward, we are going to constantly evaluate where we are financially and how to best move forward. 

Lastly, we have had several inquiries on whether or not we have set up a fundraising account people are able to use to donate directly to our adoption. We have been working to find the best option for this and became aware of AdoptTogether - an online fundraising platform that allows donations to be tax-deductible. We were recently approved for this account! If you are interested, please check out our link below: 

Again, we want to thank you all for your support. We have been overwhelmed by the thoughtful messages we have received and are truly brought to our knees by the encouragement we have felt. 

Love, 
Scott and Mary

ps: of course we will post again soon, but things are moving forward in our adoption process and we're in full swing!!




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Trivia Night and Silent Auction!





Hi Friends! 

Please check out the event below - We would love to have you join us for this night of fun! Thank you so much for your support!