Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Process Outlined!

For those of you who were wondering a bit about the process from here on and what happens when, this is somthing I took of another site and kind of outlines what will happen.

1) Homestudy (Once the social worker finishes it, She writes it up and it gets apporved by HOLT. We are considered to be officially waiting for a refurral.) This gets sent to Korea, they look at this when matching you with a child.
2) File I600A with immigration (Will be sent with an offical copy of the Homestudy) This is the pre-approval for immagration and should be taking place in the month of December for us.
3) Get fingerprinted for I600A4 (They call you and tell you when you have to come in for fingerprints.)
4) Wait Wait Wait
5)Get referral!!!!!! (which usually takes about a year on average but there are exceptions both ways) the child is usually around 6 mo. at time of referral.
{Steps 6-12 usually take anywhere from 3-6 mo on average but there are exceptions that make it longer}
6) receive legals for the specific child
7) File I600 with immigration
8) I600 approval goes to National Visa Center
9) Receive Emmigration Permit (permission from the Korean government for our child to leave the county).
10) Embassy requests packet of info from agency to complete visa (also known as P3)
11) Get visa interview
12) Get our travel call or escort date (we are not decided yet on what we will do and we have a while to think about it.)

Home Study

It was kind of nice to have our homestudy on Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving since it made us get the house cleaned up before the holiday. It wasn't that messy to begin with but it was nice to have an earlier deadline so that we didn't have to do all the work just before my family came for Thanksgiving. Waiting for a homestudy is a bit more hectic than actually having one. She asked us general questions about eachother, our relationship, our children's personalities, why we were adopting, and about our extended family. They needed financial information and asked us questions about our jobs. Now that our part of the homestudy is done we just have to wait until we get our offical approval letter. Once we have this letter then the time starts to tick for our wait on our referral. She said to expect this sometime in December. So come next Christmas we just may know who is joining our family, although it may be a while longer until they come home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Home Study Scheduled

All of our references were in on November 8th. Just a few days short of two months. We were hoping that they would have been in sooner but one got lost somewhere along the line and had to be redone and another just took a while.
We received a phone message from our social worker on Saturday Nov. 15th. I finally caught up with her on the phone today and scheduled our home study for the afternoon of the 24th and the evening of the 25th. Each visit she will be here for two hours.
She wanted to do it sooner and wants to get it completed right away. She suggested that she come tonight which would have been OK with me but John thought we should at least vacuum before she comes. I am sure we will be cleaning a bit more than that. Ethan came down with a bad cold today and had a bit of a rough night with a fever as well.
So that means next week will be a busy one. Home study Monday and Tuesday and hosting Thanksgiving on Friday. We will also be getting our flu shots next week!
At least the home study will be finished before Thanksgiving, which is nice!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pile of Paperwork

There are some other things going on in our process right now. Some of our friends have received letters of recommendation to fill out on us through the mail. They will have to complete them and turn them in. I think we had to give them names of five people if I remember correctly.
John and I have to have a physical. I had mine this morning and John will have his tomorrow. We have to have TB and HIV tests. How fun! John's HIV is already done since he is a regular blood doner. I have to wait for the results of mine to come back before we can send the paperwork in.
We have written answers to some pretty interesting questions about our expectations of adoption, or extended family's view on international adoption, our families health history, our experiences growing up, our relationship, our parents relationships, financial information, community and neighborhood information. You name it they most likely asked it. The completed form is 16 pages long. John and I were also not allowed to look at each other's answers.
Once all this paperwork is in and the background check comes back which could take 16 weeks from the time of our fingerprints, then everything is given to a social worker who will schedule a home study. Our HOLT social worker lives here in Sioux Falls so I am sure our home study won't be difficult to schedule.

PIP Class Catastrophe!

John and I got signed up for the Parents in Process (PIP) classes 1-4 in Omaha. They were Sept. 19th and 20th. The plan was to stay at my friend's house from high school, attend the classes and hit the zoo with the kids.
One major problem we had was we had no one to watch the kids on Friday while we took our classes. I spent hours using all my resources and found three different people who said that they would be available to watch them. The one we decided to go with was a lady I met on the HOLT adoption website who has three year old twins from Korea. I figured Allie would have a blast playing with the kids and Ethan would get good attention from the mom since the three big kids would be able to keep pretty busy on their own. She was a nurse before she stayed home and I even went as far as to call her social worker to see what she thought of the whole thing. The social worker had no hesitations whatsoever and said that she would leave her two children of the same ages there in a heartbeat. I was feeling pretty good, on top of the world that things were working out so well. To add to the positives all three places, the class location, my friends house where we were staying and the lady's house who was going to watch the kids ended up being about five minutes away from each other. Considering how large Omaha is that was pretty miraculous. Then... my world came crashing down on me. I found out for sure on Thursday, a little before noon, that the gal who was to watch my children could no longer do so because the twins were both in bed with fevers. We were planning to leave town around 5pm on Thursday. I frantically called up the back ups I had lined up to discover they were both thirty minutes across the town of Omaha. Way farther away than I wished they would be while we were in class. I was starting to feel very uncomfortable with the situation. Then Ethan started a low fever. "Could be teeth." I said to myself, way emotional from all the sudden changes to the great plan I had spent so long planning.
John came home from lunch, I started to feel sick but blamed it on the stress of the situation. If we didn't take the classes in Sept. we would wait until Nov. for the next opportunity. We could not even begin our home study until these classes were complete. John had already taken off work and just wanted to get them completed so that we could continue the process. We decided at lunch time that if Ethan did end up being sick no one in Omaha would want to watch him and we would be making the trip for nothing. So I called my mother, bawling at this point from the stress and frustration of it all. I felt like a duck on a wheel in a carnival shooting game.
Mom said that I was being silly and of course she would watch them on Friday and spend the night. She had volunteered earlier but I didn't want to take her up on it because we had it covered. Now that we didn't have it covered I headed her way. I also felt guilty for even asking because she was also helping out with her two, one week old, grandsons (twins) a couple days a week. Yet super grandmas to the rescue. John's mom also agreed to help out by taking Allie Friday after she got off work and watching them both on Saturday.
The plan was to leave early Thursday morning 5:45 am for Omaha. Grandma one, my mother, would watch both children until Grandma two, John's mother, got off work. Then Grandma two would pick up Allie and have her for the evening then Allie would have a sleepover at her cousin's house down the street. Great plan until... Ethan was sick and threw up a few times on Friday, Allie refused to nap in the afternoon. Then Grandma two picked Allie up and had to bring her back a couple hours later because Allie was also ill. At this point we had taken the first day of classes and had one day left. I was having stomach issues also but not enough to prevent me from going to the classes. I seriously considered giving up and driving home at that point, but the Grandma's had another plan.
The plan on the home front had changed to both Grandma one and Grandma two spending the night at our place, tag teaming through Friday night's sick child adventure. I was told that they had it covered and we should stay and finish our class. I felt guilty being away from my babies when they were not feeling well. I was confident in the abilities of the Grandmas to handle everything yet guilty that they had to deal with it as well. Emotions were all over again at that point.
We did finish the classes and left and went straight home. We had an enjoyable evening with my high school friends on Friday and had breakfast at a fancy place the next morning (McDonald's). It was a whirlwind trip and I am sure I won't remember much about it in the future because of all the worrying, emotions and because of the fact that I did not feel the greatest.
I just want to say a personal thanks to the two best Grandma's in the world. We love you both very much and want you to know that we can not thank you enough for what you two did. We know that you are awesome grandmas and can't wait for you to meet the little person who you went to such trouble for and who you did all that hard work for. I know you did it for us and for Allie and Ethan too, but there is another one out there who this is all for also. I am sure this story will make them smile when they are older.
John described the classes as having a total of about one hours worth of information that he got out of them that he previously didn't know already. Considering that the classes lasted about six hours each day that didn't say much for them. I knew, I would say, 90% of the material covered in the classes already from research I had done myself. I understand that no everyone thinks and researches things the way we do and know that the information needs to be shared with everyone that is adopting since there are things you obviously have to consider. It is just unfortunate that the circumstances leading up to and during the classes made it feel like a real waste of our time.
There were six couples attending the class. All the other couples were adopting from countries other than Korea. With the majority adopting from Ethiopia. We were the only couple adopting an Asian child which surprised me greatly.
I was also surprised to find that they are closing the Korean program to new families on October 1st. Only those who have adopted from Korea before, Korean Americans, and those choosing the waiting child program will be able to apply from then on. This does not effect us since we already have our application in, but if we would have applied three months later than when we did we would not be eligible for Korea. Which makes me very sad to think about. I was also surprised, when I went on to the HOLT adoption forum, to find out that other families that are adopting from Korea were also not aware of this new change that will happen very soon.
Korea is slowly weening itself off of international adoption and hopes that there will not be a need for international adoption in there country in the future, which we knew. At this point there is still a need, but there are enough families interested in the great program that Korea has for adoption that if they continue the way they have been their will be more parents waiting than they have children who need homes. I think that it is great that Korea's plan is that they be able to provide more homes for children in their own country, yet until that happens I still feel that this is where our child is waiting for us.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Local Adoption Information Meeting.

John the kids and I attended a adoption informational meeting on Tuesday night. It was at a library here in town so the kids were busy reading books while we got to discuss questions that we had. It was nice to meet our social worker and have her meet our family.
Only one other family attended the meeting to learn more about adoption and it turns out it is a family I know from my MOPS group. They are just exploring the idea at this point. We discussed being able to go down to Omaha together to take the classes necessary before the home study can take place. Yet the realization hit me that although we are not far at all in the process it would not work out to go to the classes at the same time because we are so much farther than they are at this point. Funny to think that we really have done quite a bit although it doesn't seem like it. Like I was told by a Holt employee, "It is not the paperwork that is hard it is the waiting." It takes a certain amount of time for the background checks to be processed. We are not in a hurry by any means. It was just funny to think that we were too many steps ahead of this other couple for them to catch up, even though I didn't think we had moved to far from the starting line.
There was one more family that attended the meeting. They were a local couple and their two year old daughter who had been adopted from China. She was a cutie of course. She and our son hit it off right away and were chasing each other around the room. The couple had three sons and the wife had always known that they were going to adopt. Her brother was also adopted so the idea was always there. It was a nice way for them to get their girl. Just like everyone who I have talked to, that has adopted, they had the firm belief that God knew the right person for their family. With three big brothers she holds her own and they love her. She was said to be the perfect fit!


For the adoption process you have to go through a local and Federal background check. One of the things you need for this is fingerprints. We were surprised to find out that the City charges an individual $12.50 per card for fingerprinting. It turns out that John and I had to have three cards each. Now if you do the math that turns out to be $75 to have your fingers stuck in some ink and pressed to a card. Fortunately John's uncle happens to have some experience with fingerprinting so he happily took care of that for us. Thank you!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


John and I on July 12, 2008, have electronically sent in the initial application to adopt a child from South Korea. Our journey has begun. We are excited about our decision and feel like a weight has been lifted as far fears pulling us from beginning the journey.
The next step will to be to sign the agreement they send us int he mail and to get our pictures printed off and ready to send. They want one picture of your family and one of your house.
Kind of feels like a positive pregnancy test because you feel there is no turning back now, yet two years is kind of a long time to be pregnant. Maybe it is more like waiting and trying to get pregnant then when you are matched it is the positive test then when you have your baby it is like well... having a baby.
Don't know for sure. Just excited to be on our way. Ok one day is not far into the journey. But seriously we are doing this with the two years plus timeline in mind. If they told me they had a baby for me tomorrow, which obviously won't happen, I would have to say, No Thanks. Two years plus is fine with us. We have decided to think of our adoption journey as being not on our time on Gods time. Who are we to say when the best time is. He will know when it is the right time. He is just telling me that the right time is not tomorrow.
We will see what I think about waiting once we are waiting to be matched or waiting to travel. That I know will be much more difficult. Just think of how long Sarah and Abraham had to wait after God matched (promised) them a son. They had almost given up, yet God knew when the time was right. Sarah even laughed when God told her that she would have a baby after being far beyond the usual age.

"Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised." Genesis 21:1

Do we know what we are getting ourselves into?

John is the type of guy who researches everything. Even if he has to go buy a light bulb he just may look up to see what one is supposed to last the longest and most cost efficient and whatever else you can think of. This is no exception. Why would it be, we are adding a person to our family.
We have heard specific stories of issues that have come up with families who have adopted children. Children who have had unseen medical problems that may have been overlooked, some possibly on purpose yet who is to say for sure. Other families that have broken up because of stressful situations that arose from adopting a child. Stories of children who have issues with bonding, and others that have ended up in counseling for various reasons. Too many to list. All of which are very scary and on our mind.
Yet, I did not spend my pregnancies worried about all the different disorders my children could be born with nor do I worry about ones that they may develop in the future. At some point you have to give all those fears to God. There is nothing you can do to control most of those situations even if you are familiar with the families personally and know all the details. I will get all the information I can from those people who have gone though this process before me but I know that God already knows who he has chosen for us and us for them. We are already praying for them and we are carrying them in our hearts.
At some point you have to just have faith in Gods Plan.
Do we know what we are getting ourselves into?
"No. but does anyone with any choice they make?"

Why South Korea?

In the year leading up to our second child Ethan's birth I took a workshop to get credits to keep my teaching certificate current. The lady who taught the class, The class was titled "How to use world music and jazz in your classroom." which was right up my alley since my degree is in K-12 music education. The lady leading the class brought along her 9 year old daughter who just happened to be adopted from South Korea. I honestly had not heard of children being adopted from South Korea before this, although I know now that is one of the oldest international programs. I didn't think much of it at the time. I had just found the stories that her mother told about how searching for things to connect her daughter to her specific South Korean culture was difficult. It was much easier to find workbooks and things for young children about China which she had done a bit, trying to let her child learn some about at least an Asian culture. She said most of the books about South Korean culture she had found were too advanced or just were not appropriate for a child.
A few weeks later at a local community center playgroup a mother walked in with three Asian children. A boy and two girls. She hurried in our direction and seemed very excited. I happened to be sitting by a friend from MOPS who had just recently moved to the US from Japan. The lady with the Asian children was excited to see someone from an Asian culture since people of Asian decent do not make up a very big part of the population in our town. She began to tell us her story about how she and her husband could not conceive and adopted a boy from South Korea. "Wow meeting two adoptive parents with children from Korea in one month. Weird!" Still didn't think much of it. She kept telling her story. Once they had their boy home they were surprised to find out that they were pregnant. They had another boy. Then... Yep there is more. They got a phone call a few years later from HOLT adoption agency who they had worked with for their sons adoption. The voice on the line said that the mother of their boy was expecting twin girls and wanted to know if they could be placed with the same family as her first son. That was her family. They were not actively looking to adopt, so the call took them by surprise. I was impressed that an adoption agency at the birth mother's request would even do something like that. Now they have twin girls who are biological siblings to their oldest boy, and of course they were the cutest little things you have ever seen. Wow what a story! Yet at the time I was still pregnant and not even thinking about adoption. I was more worried about how I was going to share my love with more than one child and other worries that the thought of adding a second child to your family gives you.
A month or so later I was chatting on a mom website and the topic of adoption came up. People were discussing international vs. domestic. One lady online, who I had previously befriended, was posting about her niece's and nephews. It turns out her sister and her husband had adopted four children from South Korea.
"AGAIN with the South Korea thing." Chills! It was beginning to seem like a common thread with me lately. I chatted with her briefly about the experience her sister's family had had with adoption and again put it to the back of my mind.
We had prayed for guidance about our decision to adopt and at that point it still kept weighing on our hearts as something we are meant to do.
So when the time came to look into adoption we started to look at the requirements listed on various international agency's websites. Of course the first country we clicked on was... China. That was the plan from back in high school, remember. We were both saddened to see that the requirements for China did not fit our family. We are young and would have to wait to long to both turn 30, the minimum age requirement, and then three years plus from that point for placement. That didn't fit the timeline we had planed for our family. Bummed we sat at the computer saying things like, "Well that is dumb." lol So we went back to the list of countries.
"Hey look at that South Korea. Let's check that one out." I remember saying to John.
"South Korea?" he said. Obviously hearing about as much about adopting from that country as I had less than a year earlier. I said "Yes, I know three different families that have children from South Korea. All the stories began to flood back into my memory. Some of them I had even in shared with with John previously but of course he didn't remember the details about it being South Korea. I soon refreshed his memory. At that point, we didn't know if the program requirements would fit our family. Turns out they did. Almost to a tee. We were within the age limits, we were excited to see the two year plus timeline instead of the three year plus we had seen on the China timeline. Travel requirements seemed to work out better in our minds. The only thing that we did not plan on honestly was the possibility of a boy since we had always talked about China where girls are often the ones waiting to be adopted.
Upon praying about it further we decided to let go of the idea that we were only open to a girl and let God make the decision for us. After all we did not get a choice for our first two children, and God knew who was meant for us and who we were meant for. If we do plan on a fourth family member we would be right on schedule (30 years old) to begin the process for China after we (like we said when we added our second child to the family) "See how this one goes!"
So after all that there was no denying that all signs pointed to South Korea. We discovered that South Korea only works with one agency per state. The agency that works with S.D. is Holt International. We went to their site and found ourselves staring at a list of requirements that would determine our families future, where God was trying to lead us this whole time.
"Ok we get it now. Our child will be waiting in South Korea."
Another great thing about the South Korea program are is that they have the most complete medical history information. They also have children placed with loving foster families while they wait instead of some countries who are only able to provide group facilities.
We did look at the other countries program requirements but our hearts already had made the decision.

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west." Isaiah 43:5
I know it wasn't talking about adoption but it seemed fitting.

Where did you get that idea?

Hello everyone,
For those of you who do not know me I am Kara. My husbands name is John.
John and I have been together since we were both 15 in high school. Back then when we were dreaming of our possible future we had a discussion about adoption. We both agreed that we were the type of people who were ok with that idea. We even decided that a little girl from China would be cute. You know the way that a 17 year old may say it.
Again about 6 years later, after we were married, when we decided to have children the idea of adoption was there as a back up if for some reason we were not able to conceive. Yet we had no problems in that area and now have two children Allie who is currently 3 and Ethan who is currently 14 mo.
John and I have always said that we would like three or four children. Another plan from high school. Even if it may come to a shock to John's family the higher number came from him.
Before we had our second child we moved into a bigger house knowing that we would eventually need more room. We plan on being in this house for the long haul. At least until we can no longer use stairs. You are probably wondering why I even mention the house. Well.. it has five bedrooms and two bathrooms all on the second floor. It seems like we have plenty of room to add more players to "Team Weber".
However after having our second child, almost the day after we were both saying that we would not be saddened by the thought of not being in the delivery ward again. It was a totally positive experience don't get me wrong but we both had the feeling that this was going to be our last visit/stay. I wouldn't describe either of my pregnancies or deliveries as difficult or horrible. They were for the most part positive experiences aside from some unusual things such as a broken rib both times during the end of the pregnancy. (ah the life of a singer),that is another story, and some extra bleeding with my second delivery, nothing that would keep us from having more.
Two months after Ethan was born John and I had a discussion about our future family plans. We always say, we will have to wait and see how this goes. Both of our children I would describe as easy babies so it was around that two to three month mark when our lives started to feel normal again. We had the discussion about having another child and neither of us felt the need or want to go the pregnancy route again. Of course who ever feels like they want to be pregnant only two months post delivery. But it was at this time the idea of adoption came to us again this time we were more serious.
It felt like God was telling us that our future child was not waiting for us at the end of that road again, they would be waiting somewhere else, somewhere far away. That is when we were first excited about our new little one and we began to pray for them. We pray that they will be born healthy, that they will be in a safe place and well taken care of until they come home to us.
I even remember Tori, John's cousin asking us at the Fourth of July family bash back in 2007 if we were done having kids. I remember saying at that time that John and I were "thinking" of adopting a child from South Korea. It was the first time we had said anything to anyone, outside of our parents, and even when talking to them it was just to hear their opinion about the idea. The news traveled fast. I had a few people who were not around ask us questions about it later that night. We knew we better tell the rest of our close family members what we were thinking at that point so that no one would have to hear it second hand.

"For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11