Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 80: Fingerprinting and Fundraising

Day 80. How is it already day 80?!?!?!?

80 days since we turned in our application to our placement agency. 

It's funny but when I named this blog over 3 years ago, I named it Losing Amber because I was on a weight loss journey.

Heck, it was before I even conceived Everleigh. 

When I started this blog, I never would have imagined that we would be adopting from China. Never in my wildest dreams. 

And yet here I am, several years later adopting from China on a blog called Losing Amber and it oddly feels fitting. Through this journey, and these 80 days so far, while I have already gained so much, I can't help but feel like I have lost a little of myself along the way. So much has changed in such a short period of time. 

I read, I scour FB pages for adopting parents, I scour groups that discuss special needs for prospective parents adopting from China. I read blogs of adoptive parents, of adult adoptees. I scour advocacy pages of these orphans who may never get a family before they age out of China's System. I see these orphans carry diagnoses that are so heavy. It is so easy to lose a piece of yourself for these children and in this process. 

I am better for this journey, that is one thing I can be sure of after these 80 days.

So, on day 81, we complete the final piece of our home study that we need in order to get our home study social worker here to do her final interview and home inspection so that we can FINALLY get this home study finalized.

So, tomorrow, we get fingerprinted..AGAIN! Because the first time their system apparently crashed and they failed to tell us so we waited 48 days for results that would have never showed up. Thank goodness we called to see what the deal was! Then we went for another appointment to fix it, At this appointment, they were incredibly useless. Steve is generally a calm kind of person and it had gotten to the point where he had started to lose the ability to bite his tongue. 

We left with our money back and I managed not to lose my temper or hit anyone. Winning!

So, we have an appointment at a location that can actually do what we need done and they will have the results to our social worker in about 3 days. Once she has them, she can schedule our home visit and finalize.

Everyone always wants to know...HOW LONG? Well, that will all depend on if we find our daughter on an advocacy page or if we wait for our agency to match us. 

Either way, what happens after our home study is everything has to be state certified and then authenticated by the embassy. Once that is complete, we apply to USCIS which is who will approve us from the state side. The turn around is currently about 60 days for approval, but the adoption community as a whole is expecting that to pick up soon. But for now, I am anticipating 60 days.

Once approved by USCIS, we can send our dossier to China where we will be considered "logged in" and our dossier will be translated. If we already have a baby that we are matched with, then we will only be approximately 4-5 months from getting our daughter AFTER we are logged in. If we wait to be matched by our agency, then it will be 4-5 months on top of however long it takes us to get matched and such.

So, either way, we are at minimum another 7 months away. It is a long process.

Hopefully that helps clear things up with a timeline :) Now I would like to discuss fundraising!

When we started this process, Steve and I had decided we could fund our own adoption and I had many friends and family who told us they wanted to be a part of helping to bring her home. We worried that people would see our lifestyle and would have negative feelings towards the fact that we were raising funds.

Because we were fundraising, we made decisions to spend less money. Not change our lifestyles in a crazy way, but just be more mindful. We also began putting money aside. And yet, we all know there would still be that one person who basically told me that it annoyed them that I live "in luxury" and bug people for money.

Can I be frank?

Who am I kidding, this is MY blog.

Do I live in luxury? We don't go without if that is what you mean. We drive nice cars, we have a pool and we have an RV. BUT, these are things we had BEFORE we chose to adopt. These are payments we have already been making. We didn't decide to adopt and then go and buy new vehicles, a house or anything else. These are things we already own.

We have an adoption account where every dollar that we fundraise and even money of our own gets put in there to cover adoption costs. That is the ONLY thing that goes in and out of there.

That said, after comments of me "bugging people" for money, Steve and I talked. 

I don't ever want ANYONE to think that we were bugging them for anything. That is why we picked things that we thought people would love and that were meaningful. Capes because our kids LOVE them. A puzzle because we want our daughter to have a beautiful keepsake of all of the people who loved her before she was even home. And t-shirts because it is such an awesome way for people all over the country to show support for our sweet Maleigh <3 

Anyway, Steve and I talked and we have decided to fundraise for a few VERY specific fees that allow our friends to be able to play a part in the parts of this process that are DIRECTLY tied to bringing Maleigh home :) 

Those fees are the agency for our placing agency which is $8,000 and the orphanage donation which is $5500. All other fees including the home study ($5700) travel and in country fees (totaling about $15,000+) will be paid by us.

So, the agency fees are pretty straight forward. The fees that we pay to our agency for all of the big details of bringing her home. The orphanage donation is a donation made to the orphanage to help them to take care of the sweet babies that are still left in these places without families. It i sto help them to do the best that they can to take care of these children.

I don't know why it was on my heart to go into details about the fundraising but I felt like I needed to. I began to feel like every time I spent any money, I would be judged or scrutinized and that felt pretty terrible even though I knew we weren't doing anything wrong. I knew that we had yet to even touch the adoption fund. The 4500 we had already paid towards our adoption hadn't even come out of our adoption fund. It came out of our savings. 

So, yes we are fundraising. Because we want people to be a part of the most amazing adventure we have ever been on. We want to do this as a village of people who love Maleigh and want to get her home. But, at the end of the day, she is OUR daughter. And with or without fundraising, we will bring our daughter home. 

From the beginning of this adventure, we were honest. We have a daughter in China. We do not expect anything other than love and prayers from each and every one of you that love and support us.

Nothing more <3 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Day 63: Heartbreak and Moving Forward


Day 63! Our final packet for our home study has been submitted and now we wait for it to be written up and our home visit for the final approval so that we can apply to the federal government for approval to send our documents for translation and then to China.

This is a HUGE step forward in our process and it finally feels like progress :)

But, this process has not been without heartbreak.

2 weeks ago, I saw a picture of a sweet girl. I won't go into details. But I want to be honest and I want you to know and try to understand this.

I looked at this sweet girl and we weren't scared. Her diagnosis wasn't scary. Her delays weren't scary.

I looked at her pictures and her updates and I saw our daughter.

She was ours. 

I was preparing to switch agencies and lose money if necessary. She was my daughter. 

I placed her file on hold and I sent it to an international adoption specialist at a University Hospital. I waited for 4 long days. Over Easter, I was as present as I could be while I waited to hear back.

I trembled as I listened to the doctor and with every single word my heart was breaking. Again, I won't go into details but the file had a lot unknowns. And the unknowns pointed to a neurological issue. 

We took a few days and Steve and I talked. We talked even though we knew what we had to do. We talked in hopeful tones, but we knew we couldn't keep her. We had to take an honest look at what we want for our family. We had to take an honest look of what we wanted for our daughter. The unknowns were too much.

With a heavy heart and with fits of sobbing, I released her file so that her forever family could find her. I cried for days. I still cry for her. I cry for a baby who needs medical tests but she's an orphan and orphans don't rate high on a government's list of priorities. 

I cry because these aren't just files. These are babies. These are babies waiting on their families. Babies cast off and left to sit in an orphanage with very few people to fight for them.

I knew this journey wouldn't be easy. And I considered not blogging about this immense heartbreak but in the beginning, I committed to being upfront and honest with every step.

It's been just over a week since I returned her file. My heart still hurts, but I know her family is looking for her and someone will take those unknowns and they will bring her home because the unknowns won't matter to them. They'll have a picture of what their family will look like and they know she is the piece that fits the most.

Pray with me every day for her and for her forever family ♡