Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The latest

Things just keep rolling along.

Last night, my class was cancelled and I was thrilled to have some extra time. I was even more excited when I realized I didn't have ANY adoption paperwork to do. I got to spend a night knitting and catching up on some tv shows. Don't worry, though. I won't be bored for long. I got another packet of paperwork from the home study agency today.

Here's the latest things to be crossed off the to-do list:
1. Set up my appointment today for my physical. The first available appointment isn't for another 2 weeks. Frustrating but not much I can do about it.

2. I found out that the person handling my home study will be the same woman that I met with for the intake. This is a HUGE blessing for me since I really don't enjoy meeting new people. It stresses me out and this process is stressful enough.

3. My home visit is next Wednesday. I wish they would give me a list of what they are looking for but they just keep telling me to be myself and everything will be fine.

4. I registered for my the 10 hours of training that I need to finish my home study.

5. I told my students. They were really precious about it and asked some great questions. One of them asks me every other day if I've picked up my little girl yet. I don't think they quite get it.

6. I picked out bedding, and therefore, a color scheme for Sara's bedroom. Anna is coming during her spring break to help me with creative ideas and to do some of the work.

7. This weekend, I put together a photo album of my life to send to the orphanage. I'm excited to think that Sara can now see a picture of me!

Things to do tonight or tomorrow:
1. Contact the school district. I feel like I need to give them a little warning about what's coming their way and I want plenty of time to look at options and ideas. I'm hoping to be able to use one of my spring break days to visit potential programs. My plan, at this point, is not to tell them that I'm a special ed teacher. I want to see what they have to offer. Don't worry, though, I have absolutely no problem playing that card and advocating for what I think is best for my daughter.

2. Finish this pile of paperwork that came in the mail today.

3. Work on all those little fix-it projects that I've been meaning to do around the house. Gotta make a good impression!

Thank you so much to all of you for all your support and encouragement. I'm amazed every time I log into Blogger how many people look at this page daily. It means so much to me that so many people--a lot of who I don't even know---are excited about Sara finding a family.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Time flies....when you're doing paperwork.

I talked to my adoption agency yesterday. They said that I was their "guinea pig" for this orphanage in Latin America. The director of the orphanage is willing to move this adoption through as quickly as possible. Originally, the adoption agency thought 6 months wasn't really a realistic expectation. They were thinking closer to 8. The orphanage director says it will be done in 4 months! That's crazy! That means I could be traveling in late June/early July to pick up Sara. It's amazing to me how fast this entire process is going. When I first started researching international adoption, I found that most take about 18 months. So, I was thinking I would have a child NEXT summer, not early THIS summer. I'm very excited and really hope to have Sara back in the states for her 4th birthday in August.

There is a downside to the speed, though. I had hoped to teach summer school this year to earn some extra money to help cover the crazy expenses associated with the adoption. My boss has said I can work until I'm ready to leave but it probably won't be the whole summer session. So, I now have less time to raise money and more money to raise. I know that God will provide, one way or another. BUT, I'm a planner and a numbers person. I want to be able to see it all on paper now. After all these years, you'd think I'd know by now that God doesn't always work that way.

I have a few ways you can help!

1. Pray. God is going to provide this money. The most important thing any of us can do is pray.

2. I have set up an on-line coffee sale as a fundraiser. I'm not a coffee drinker but so many of my friends and families are. I got a large percentage of each sale. This money comes directly to me and can help off-set travel expenses and things like the home study. That link is here:

Coffee Sale!

3. You can make a donation to Reece's Rainbow in Sara's name. This money will be given directly to the adoption agency to cover those expenses. 100% of the money donated there goes to bring Sara home. You can do that here:

Adoption Costs

4. You can share either or both of these links on your blog, facebook, or email list.

Thank you to all of you for your overwhelming support and excitement. I can't wait to introduce Sara to each of you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

FAQs - Part 1

I am, naturally, getting lots and lots of questions. So, I'm going to answer most of them here. Feel free to leave a comment and ask any more questions you have. I'll do a FAQ--Part 2 later.

1. Is her name Charlotte or Sara? I'm confused. Reece's Rainbow has her listed as Charlotte. I'm not sure why they do this. The closest thing to her real name is Sara. Her name will be Sara Rebecca Keller.

2. It's free to adopt kids with special needs, right? Sadly, that's not true. It's true of some domestic foster-care adoptions but not international adoptions. The total cost of the adoption will be about $25,000. Yep! That's a huge amount. I'm applying for grants to cover some of that. I'm also relying on my generous friends and supporters of Reece's rainbow to help out. You can do that here.

3. Why aren't you adopting domestically? Believe it or not, there is a waiting list for people waiting to adopt children with Down Syndrome in the US. In most foreign countries, children with DS are put into institutions around the age of 6 to "live" out the rest of their lives. I will never be able to stop that practice or rescue all the children who have this as a fate. However, I can help one.

4. Do you have to go pick her up? Yes. I will have to spend 4-6 weeks in her country finalizing paperwork and legalities.

5. When will she come home? International adoptions are very unpredictable. When they say "go," I have to go. I'm really praying that it will be August. This would coincide with my 3 week summer break and allow me 3 extra weeks of time off without having to worry about using all my sick time. It would also allow me to work summer school to save up some money for my travel.

6. Can you take time off from work? Yes. I can take FMLA as a maternity leave. I have about 5 weeks of sick time saved up. If it worked out in August, I could take 8 weeks off.

7. Does she speak English? Nope. Good thing I speak Spanish! I will probably speak Spanish at home for a while. Time to put all those grad school classes in ESL to use.

8. Is she going to the school where you teach? I don't know. I haven't met with the school district yet. She will qualify for early childhood special ed services. My district only has one student at my school so that doesn't look promising. However, my district has a very good Sped program and a great ESL program.

9. How does your family feel about this decision? My family and friends have all been INCREDIBLY supportive. I have no doubt that she has already been accepted as a part of my family.

10. So, now what? Right now, I am continuing with the home study process and compiling my dossier. Basically, lots and LOTS of paperwork and lots of checks being written. When the home study is finished, I can start applying for grants. When all the paperwork is done, it gets sent to Homeland Security and to the foreign government. Then, I wait for the OK from both of them.

11. My favorite question from my youngest brother: Are you going to bring her EVERY time you come to NY? Yep. That's the plan! I'm sure her Nana will gladly watch her so we can get our usual activities in.

Leave me a comment and let me know what other questions you have.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I would like to introduce you to Sara, my daughter. She is 3 years old and living in Latin America. I'm hoping she will be coming home this summer to meet all her friends and family.

I'm not usually one to ask for help but many of you have asked how you can help. So, here it is. I'm quickly learning this is a long and tedious process that I won't make it through without all of your help and support. (I've been completely overwhelmed by how excited and supportive everyone has been so far!)

1. Prayer. I need lots and lots of prayer and so does Sara. I hate having her so far away and I just want all this paperwork to be done. Pray that the process will go smoothly and that she will be healthy, happy, and safe while she waits for her new family. Also, pray for the finances involved in adoption. I'm pursuing all the avenues I can find--fund raising, donations, grants. Pray that God will continue to provide.

2. International Adoption is incredibly expensive. There are some major costs and lots of "little" costs. If you would like to contribute to the major costs, you can make a tax-deductible gift to Reece's Rainbow using this link.

3. I also want to let all of you know that I'm available for babysitting, tutoring, anything to earn some extra money. I'm responsible for a lot of small expenses like fingerprinting, birth certificates, my travel, etc. These things add up. Please continue to follow along with the story on here. I will continue to update as things progress. Also, you can read my profile on Reece's Rainbow.

Please feel free to pass along that link or the one to the blog. I will take all the prayer and encouragement I can get!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lots of Details

I keep thinking that I'm really organized in this process but then I spend one night a week re-organizing all the paperwork. I'm determined to keep this process moving from my end as much as I can.

Tomorrow, it's a short day at work. This NEVER happens. The timing is amazing, though, because I need to get my fingerprints done. For some weird reason, it's more expensive for me to get the paperwork reprinted than it is to get the fingerprints redone. So, off I go to get my fingerprints, even though I'm a teacher with all kinds of background checks and clearance.

I knew that adoption was very expensive. I didn't know that it would come in $50 increments. So far, I've written checks for 2 applications, 2 official birth certificates and finger prints. Maybe I should have ordered some checks before all this process started.

I'm still waiting for all the pieces to come together for Reece's Rainbow. I can't wait to see my daughter posted under "New Commitments" on their website. All in good time.... Paperwork break is over. Back to the grind.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Visit with the Social Worker

Today was my first appointment with the social worker from the Home Study Agency. I already got the preliminary ok from the adoption agency and from Reece's Rainbow. This social worker was the last person I needed to get a "go" from. Needless to say, I was more than a little nervous.

I don't really enjoy talking to people I don't know. It's just not something I'm comfortable with. Fortunately, I can overcome this when I have something I am passionate about to talk about.

After locking myself in a stairwell and accidentally calling the local police department, we had a great meeting. She was very nice and very supportive. She was impressed with all the research I've done and all the resources I have lined up. (She will soon learn that when I want something, I throw myself into it until I get it.) She sent me home with some more paperwork and I got a huge to-do packet from the adoption agency in the mail today.

The next step is to get my fingerprints done and get FBI clearance. This shouldn't be a problem since I've been fingerprinted in at least 3 states in the last 15 years. Then, the paperwork and appointments go into full force. The good news is, the social worker can now send her preliminary ok to Reece's Rainbow. This will allow them to move my little girl's picture from "My Family Found Me" to "New Commitments." When that happens, I can officially claim her as my daughter and introduce her to all of you. I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mini Update

I filled out and submitted applications for three different agencies: Reece's Rainbow, the adoption agency and the social services agency. Some things had to be emailed, some faxed, some mailed, some notarized, some paid for. They all involved slightly different essay-type answers. I think I got them all in the right form and on the right forms to the right people. (It reminded me a lot of applying for colleges.) I've heard back from all of them that they've received what I sent. Now, I wait. (I am not good at waiting. When I want something, I go for it. I check things off the list until it's done. I don't wait.) I meet with the social worker on Monday. If that goes well, I can officially be "matched" with my daughter. I can't wait to be able to post her picture and introduce her to all of you. I know you will all love her. After all, she's adorable!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Letters to My Daughter - Feb 2012


I stole this idea from your Aunt Amy. She regularly posts letters to your cousin Grace so she will know how much she is loved as she gets older. I've always loved the idea and I'm so glad I finally have someone to write to.

I am so excited for you and I to become a family. It's amazing to me how much I can love someone that I have never met. I never would have thought it was possible to love someone this much based on a picture and a few pages of information. Nevertheless, I do love you and can't wait for you to come home.

Multiple times a day, I think about what my life will be like when you are a part of it. Sometimes, I think about the big things: vacations, Christmas, getting ready for work/school in the morning. Usually, I just think about the small things: which side of the car I'll put your car seat on; watching tv; grocery shopping. A lot of the time, I think about what you are doing right now. Are you happy? Are you healthy? Do you have any idea your life is going to completely change?

I'm constantly amazed at how many other people love you and can't wait to meet you. You already have so many people volunteering to babysit you, buy you things, love on you. Your Tia Anna is planning to decorate your bedroom. Your Aunt Janelle knew you would be part of our family before I did. Your Nana is very excited to have another grandchild. I can't wait for you to meet all your Uncles, Aunts, cousins (you will soon have 2!), Grandpa, and all my friends that are praying for your safe arrival.

I wish that I could go and get your right now but that's now how it works. Until then, I promise to do everything I can to get you home as soon as possible. I will pray for you daily and love you a little more each and every day.

Con Amor, Tu Mami

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And the waiting begins...

My applications are finished. I just need to scan then and email them tomorrow. Then I wait for a call from the Illinois agency to set up my first home study appointment. I really just wish I could call them and tell them I'm a really good person and they should just give me my child. I understand why they have to be thorough but I hope and pray they can be thorough quickly.

I was watching Anne of Green Gables tonight while I did my taxes and filled out my apps. It's amazing to me that they just "sent word" with someone and got a child from the orphanage. I only wish it was that easy. I would go pick her up tomorrow.