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"Every Good and Perfect Gift Comes From Above" ~James 1:17

"Every Good and Perfect Gift Comes From Above" ~James 1:17
Thank you so much for coming to check out my brand spankin' new blog! I've never "blogged" before, so here goes nothin'! This page is inspired by our adoption process, and I am hoping to get words of encouragement or advice every step along the way :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

TGFP... Thank God for Pinterest!

It's Friday morning :)
We've been working on paperwork, nothing too exciting so far. We really want to push the process along faster but the main problem is that we have to raise some money for this adoption. Basically, it will be over $30,000 to bring a new little girl into our family- the price of the new Toyota Highlander I've been eyeing for some time. I will have to make due with my 11 year old Highlander from the looks of things!
Problem with this: the money is not financed. Yes there are grants and loans, but A) There is no guarantee you will get any of this money and B) You can't even begin to apply until AFTER your home study is completed. Considering that we won't even START our home study until at least October, we need to find some funds.
I was thinking of what talents I have and what I could do that wouldn't take too much time or money. There are all sorts of fundraisers out there (see my page on financing your adoption), but so far nothing has really called to me. I am pretty crafty, and I have some REALLY crafty friends who said they would be more than willing to help me out. Here are some of the projects that I have done in my own home, inspired by Pinterest :)
For my cousin Natalie's wedding

A Wedding "Guest Book" for guests to stamp with a leaf stamp and sign their name.
Turned out beautiful, Still trying to get the final pictures of it :)

A homemade present for my friend Heather's bridal shower!
Pillows
Wreath for Austin's teacher Mrs. Ward
Fall Wreath





Austin's silhouette
Sorry about the bad quality, these were just mobile uploads I did of my finished projects! So I've decided to put some of this craftiness to good use and maybe open an Etsy shop. We shall see. In the meantime, I will keep crafting and perusing Pinterest!!
-Erin XOXO

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What to Expect... When You're Adopting

We have been getting many of the same questions asked about our journey, the main one being "What is next?". Good question! I know basically the way it goes is: Submit your application, have people come put you and your life under a microscope, submit the application to the country of your choosing, wait, wait, wait, the country approves you, you get a "referral" (AKA a child), travel to said country, pick up baby, and all is hunky dory. 
Sad to say there is a lot more involved in this, and I wasn't purposely being naive about the process but I really had no clue. Here is what I found out through much internet research.

1) Submit your application. Yay! We were approved! ~I liken this to the home pregnancy test. It says positive, but you need the doctor's test to be sure.

2) Submit another application, this one being the more "formal" one. Yay, approved again! Apparently we look great on paper ;) ~You have officially been diagnosed as Paper Pregnant!

3) Start the arduous process of paying the adoption fees. This first one is not too high, maybe as a way to 'ease' into the financial aspect. Then it snowballs from there!

4) Homestudy time and paperwork. We downloaded and printed 25 (yes, I counted) attachments and have begun to fill them out. According to www.China-Adoption-Online.com, a home study is an in-depth review of you, your family, your finances, and your home environment. 
During this time you will also be building your dossier, (fancy word for documents with detailed information about you), and getting these documents notarized. This can take several months, and it's where we are sitting right now.

5) Fill out more forms, most notably the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country (I-800A) seeking approval to adopt a child from China. Then you certify this form, and you are officially a Dossier to China.

6) Once China logs in your dossier, you obtain your LID (Log In Date). There are several websites that estimate how long the wait is from getting your LID to actually getting a referral of a child. It varies so much that it is really hard to tell, and varies even more if you are willing to accept a "special needs" child. At any rate, the process is almost complete at this step!

7) Now you are waiting to be matched with a child. In pregnancy terms, you have entered the last trimester. You are tired of waiting. You want to meet your baby or child. And you are completely helpless to hurry the process along. This step ends when you receive the actual referral of your child. You can choose to decline the referral and wait some more, or accept the referral in which you have 72 hours to submit an LOI (Letter of Intent) stating that this is YOUR baby and you want to come claim him or her!!! 

8) You will then begin waiting for your LOA (Letter of Acceptance)This can take anywhere from 1-5 months, with 52 days being the average (www.China-Adoption-Online.com). 

9) Next: More forms. Look at it as the early stages of labor. This time it is the Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative (I-800). This takes about 3 weeks to be approved. Then there is some stuff about travel visa's, Article 5, yadayadayada... Your water is broken and you aren't paying attention.

10) Get your travel documentation from your agency and go pick up your child!! 
It's easy as pie right?? So that is why it is so hard to answer the timeline questions, because there are so many things that are out of our control. All I can do is stay motivated and realize that anything worth having is worth fighting for!
~Erin XOXO

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Projects to Pass the Time

I am a busy body. I like to have things to do, plan, look forward to, etc. This was one of the biggest problems we had to deal with after losing our baby Aiden. We had planned, hoped, dreamed of all sorts of things that were never going to be. So, while in the hospital, I decided to plan the rest of my life! I enrolled in my prerequisite classes for nursing school literally on my laptop from my hospital bed. David and I also decided to do something just for us: a "Recovery Cruise" we called it. I gave us 6 months to save up for it and get into better shape, seeing as how I had gotten up to 7 months pregnant and looked every inch of it! We cruised to Cozumel and the Cayman Islands, just us, and we had an amazing time.
Being silly on the deck of the ship

Enjoying "breakfast" on 7 mile beach

So at any rate, you see my mind thinks wayyy ahead. Therein lies the problem with all of this "waiting" and not knowing. When you are pregnant, there are some certainties. You know you will not be pregnant for more than 10 months (maybe less, yes, but that is the NICU nurse in me talking). You are pretty sure if you are having a boy or a girl. You can see your child in your womb and count fingers and toes. You can take care of yourself to the best of your abilities to aid that child into a healthy world.

When you are adopting, you know basically nothing! We have no idea if we will have a baby a year or 3 years from now, so there really is no planning going on in our house. Everything is status quo for right now. The play room will stay as it is, not becoming a nursery until we get some answers. We can't buy clothes, because even if we request a girl there are no guarantees. Plus we have no idea how old she would be when we get her: do we buy 6 months clothes? 12 months? Ugh the waiting is terrible... and we are just getting started!!

Thus, the reason for my post. I have to have projects going on in order to pass the time. My latest one: restoring an antique cabinet I purchased at a vintage shop in Oviedo. 

The cabinet had been primed and had the original  hardware that was semi-rotted. I painted it with a cream colored flat paint and sanded down the edges to keep the antique look. I decided I wanted some sort of design, so I mixed water with a blue paint I had from a previous project and painted on some stripes- my kitchen is a beachy theme so I thought this would look nice. The husband hates it, but then again he has no idea when it comes to style ;)
I then applied wax to the entire piece. Next I used Annie Sloan's Dark Wax along the edges, since most bloggers had warned about simply applying the dark wax alone. GOOD CALL! It made it mucho easier to rub in and get the effect I wanted: Old, not Dirty!
After all of this was done, I buffed the piece and added some crystal knobs I found at Home Goods. Love. That. Store.
**NOTE: Always watch your cats when you are painting!
I have no idea which one did this and how they snuck past
me, but they left little kitty prints behind in the fresh paint.
Of course, it is too cute to paint over ;) So this is our little
secret!
The finished project:












Do you like? It is my first foray into the Annie Sloan dark wax, and though I am a firm believer in her chalk paint (will post pictures of that project later) I had never tried the wax. It was fun to use and I could definitely see myself getting carried away!!


So that was this week's project. TGFP (Thank God for Pinterest) to keep me motivated and not going stir crazy trying to control things that I have no control over!!
~Erin XOXO

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Good News and the Bad News

We have been officially APPROVED and the paperwork is in the mail direct to our casa!
"Thank you for completing the Formal Application! We are thrilled to share that you have been approved to move forward in the adoption process"

Since we have only had to fill out a handful of online forms up to this point, I am assuming this pretty little package en route will be the "mountain of paperwork" that I always hear about when discussing adoption. I have to say I am actually excited to get the ball rolling on this stuff! Now all we have to do is: Narrow all of the country options (Haiti, China, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Bulgaira, Columbia, Hong Kong, Phillipines), decide if we can handle a 'special needs' child ~ and determine exactly what each country defines as 'special needs', fill out the paperwork, sign our lives away on the dotted lines, try to teach Austin the meaning of "patience", start and finish our home study, and scrape together tens of thousands of dollars over the next several months. Yep. No biggie. :/

It is a severely daunting task that we have ahead of us, and if I look at the whole picture I want to either puke, scream, or eat a very large warm piece of chocolate cake. However, I have to remember several things.

1) I am not doing this on my own. I have a fantastic support system of family and friends that are cheering us on from the sidelines. Plus my husband seems to know just when I am about to crack... Case in point: He called me this morning out of the blue and directed me to go "find time for a pedicure today". Really, who else says things like that?? He is freaking amazing.

2) I can't control everything. Or in this case, I really have absolutely no control over anything. This is a really, really hard concept for me.

3) Although we are so very ready to hold a little girl in our arms right now thankyouverymuch, this is not our timeline to dictate. Also, I'm sure towards the end time will feel like it has been flying by the entire journey. It just doesn't yet.

I'm sure there are more things to be remembered but I have already forgotten them. I have all sorts of quotes running through my head, something about moving mountains and about getting away from the shore, blah blah blah. Bottom line: Even miracles take a little time. And in this case, a lot of money. More on that later :)
Thanks for reading!!!
~Erin XOXO

Monday, August 13, 2012

Announcing Adoption

So, yesterday was a pretty rough day. Both my husband and I were in a funk for some reason, maybe it was because we started adding up how much this may cost in the end and realized it is a LOT more than we had thought. Like, a lottttttt. I decided today to focus on the positives, seeing as how it is a beautiful Florida sunshiney day, I started the morning out at the gym, got a large (excuse me, Grande) Starbucks, and am munching on my favorite Chipotle burrito bowl for lunch as I type. Yes, food always puts me in a better mood! We shipped Austin off to 2nd grade on the bus, and it reminded me of how many things will be changing in our home.
When we decided to go through with the adoption process, I searched Pinterest and other blogs for baby and pregnancy announcements with regards to adoption. The choices were pretty slim. Here are a few I absolutely loved:



The above photos are from the blog Forever By Grace
( http://foreverbygrace.blogspot.com )
 I just loved these pictures!
These 2 pictures are from a couple currently in China waiting to adopt...
( http://jonandliss.blogspot.com)

Here is the announcement that we made and posted on Facebook as well as emailed to our family at the same time so everyone could hear the news at once :)


David wondered why I had made the announcement so public, seeing as how it is going to take quite a while to get the ball rolling. I just explained that, if we were pregnant, we would let the world know. So why not if we are adopting? This way we can get all the support we need along the way, especially from people who have been through the process and can guide us! 
Here's to a much, much better and brighter day :D
~Erin

Friday, August 10, 2012

Meet the Teacher

Today we meet Austin's 2nd grade teacher. This is always an awkward moment, when we have to find a quiet second to explain that yes, he may bring up his other brother who is in Heaven sometimes, and yes, this is OK. Now no doubt he will also be spreading the rumor (albeit the truth) that he is going to get a little sister. Heads will then most likely turn in my direction, and I just pray I don't look pregnant! Must wear something slimming.
I am praying that this year goes well for us all. With all these new changes on the horizon it is extremely important for me to stay focused on what matters: spending quality time with my family, maintaining our health, and not going absolutely crazy from this waiting and not knowing!! I have fended off so many questions about the next step in this process, and I must absolutely say that I have no earthly idea. Any of you out there who have adopted before and can clue me in, please be my guest!!
On that note, I'm off to get ready to make a good (skinny-I'm-not-pregnant) first impression :)
~Erin

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

EEeeekkk my first blog everrrr!!

So, this is just so weird. I'm writing my thoughts/feelings/hopes/dreams/random mutterings here on the web, not sure if ANYone is going to read them! The only real thing I really want to get out of this little blog-venture is to find others who are maybe in the same boat that we are, in the hopes of traveling down this journey together!
Myself, my husband, and my son have been excited about having a 4th member of our household (excluding the 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 fish and our little snail Gary) for some time now. Well, it began with an oopsie that led to me throwing up a bunch and thinking "Gee, I must be pregnant! Oh crap!" when Austin was 3 years old. After 10 weeks (and more puking) we found out we lost our baby. Austin thinks it was a girl, so we will go with that; Angel #1 up in Heaven waiting for us <3
Then came the actual trying, and we were successful in making another perfect baby. This one was a boy, named Aiden Thomas. We made it to the 7th month of pregnancy, when he was born still. Worst day of our lives. Thus, Angel #2 in Heaven. We decided then and there that we were done with adding to the family; what we had was special and perfect and was in no way going to change. Or, at least that is what I thought...
Having lunch with my husband about a month ago, he throws the "I've always wanted another child" brick which promptly made me want to vomit. Thank goodness I didn't, we were at Toojay's and I just love it there. So I thought about what he said for the rest of the day, and actually found myself picking out baby names in the car on the way home. **It should be said how dangerous it is to be daydreaming while driving on I-4 in rush hour! Not a great idea.**
Anyhoo, I asked the hubs later if he really just wanted to "make" a baby, or could we "purchase" said baby. This was the deal-maker for me, as I am a realllly awful pregnant person and, giving what happened in the prior pregnancies, would most likely be a neurotic mess the entire time. After some thinking and discussing, we came to the conclusion that no, our family is not complete, and yes: We want to adopt a baby!
So now up to present day, the waiting has begun. We chose a company (I have wonderful recommendations for anyone who wants to know!), submitted our formal application, and thus have begun the whirlwind yet completely too slow process of w-a-i-t-i-n-g..... Twiddling our thumbs, trying not to go too crazy planning the nursery yet (extremely hard however thanks to Pinterest), also explaining to Austin that this is a lonnnnnnng process.
So, who's with me??!!
:)
~Erin