I can't believe we are finally done. Well, I don't want to jinx it. We still need to have everything looked over by our agency before it's forwarded on for authentication but hopefully we'll hear tomorrow or Thursday that it's on its way to California!

I don't have any stories about today at all! Today went just perfectly. So perfect, in fact, that I'm fighting the feeling of superstitious and wondering when the other shoe will drop. Instead I'm feeling that this is yet another sign that we have made better decisions lately. This adoption process, to date, has been exhausting, stressful, difficult beyond belief. I was ill-prepared for how difficult this journey would be. It felt like we came up against one brick wall after another after another. Finding answers to simple questions felt impossible. Today Dh commented that he has never felt so stupid as he has felt during this adoption process and I really "get" that. For most of this process so far I've felt like it wasn't so much of a rollercoaster as a supreme stressor. There were no highs that are often associated with a rollercoaster ride. I felt like quitting many times - not because I don't desperately want a daughter but because I wasn't sure I was strong enough to make it through the process whole. I'm glad we stuck it out so we could get to the point where we trusted ourselves enough to make tough decisions to better the experience for each other.

While there was nothing at all unethical about our former agency, they were not a good fit for us. Switching agencies has brought this adoption process full-circle. It now feels rewarding. We feel a part of the process, we feel valued and understood and cared for. It is a great feeling. And more than that we also understand, we feel informed, we feel included and like part of an extended family. We have someone there to support us and explain in plain terms the answers to our many many MANY questions. And we never feel stupid now.

So today we notarized our dossier, statecraft the entire bundle and sent them on to our agency feds for approval. It sounds a little dramatic to say that I thought I might cry if everything went down without a hitch. I didn't cry but I feel a new optimism, a new faith that we are on the right track. And honestly, these last few weeks are the first time in this entire journey that we felt like we were on the right track. I feel like our daughter is within reach and she is a real palpable soul in the universe. It is surreal to feel the shift so noticeably - I wasn't expecting a shift at all.

So we did good. We followed our hearts, our instincts and they led us in the right direction and every sign since then has confirmed it. I'm ready for a break from paperchasing. I'm ready to watch as my friends travel to meet their children and really embrace their experiences. I'm ready for the wait for referral. I'm thankful that no one has said "any day now". I'm thankful for underpromises and overproducing. I'm completely at peace.

And with that, I am happy to announce that we have made mini-vacation plans. Ok, we are only going away for the Memorial Day weekend and we have to bring our dogs (who are not on my best friend list this week). But this will be IT for us for 2006 in the vacation department other than possibly a trip to our cabin and our trip to Vietnam. We are driving to Columbus to attend the Asian Festival on Saturday and attend a family picnic with our agency on Sunday and to visit a friend nearby while we are in town. I love love love Columbus so I am positively giddy with anticipation. Shows you how badly I need a break! I know, it isn't Hawaii but when the biggest tour from home is one through downtown Detroit, as much as I love Detroit, Columbus is like Hawaii.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 5/16/2006§

I remember you, old friend!
It's the weekend - the time when a paperchasing parent falls dead in the water. I had forgotten about this old enemy friend. It hasn't been that long but it feels like months that we've had nothing really to do, no timelines to meet, just waiting for that darned 171H, the bane of our existence. Now that that is out of the way, we are in Rush Mode again and the weekend means being forced to stop.

Right now we are waiting on a few key documents we need so we can certify our dossier and get it off to our agency for authentication next week. Namely, we are waiting on DH's passport and DH's employment letter. Both have been sent but did not make it to our door by mail call today. Tomorrow maybe they'll come but so what? We can't do anything until Monday, those government slackers don't work on the weekends. :-P

But I'm embracing the pause. Half my kids have the chicken pox and need my full attention, it's Mother's Day weekend which means I owe my mom a little attention as well. And this forced pause comes at maybe a good time but it feels somehow important, beneficial. I like slowing down, living life while adopting instead of living adoption while life goes on around me. It's a good reminder. I missed you, old friend!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 5/12/2006§

Mother's Day Gift
Our 171H arrived today! We expected it mid-June. We are now officially ready for a referral and expect to be DTV within days. I'm beyond giddy. HAPPY DAY! I know this isn't a huge deal for a lot of PAPs but we have had HUGE Problems in Michigan with 1600a processing and wait times have been in excess of 6 months. I felt optimistic with my 3 month prediction but it was less than two months beginning to end! HURRAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Next up? Our referral!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 5/10/2006§
A Change Will Do You Good
Well, folks, after a lot of thought, discussion and time, we made a decision to change agencies. It was not an easy decision. We didn't hate our agency, we didn't feel misled and there was certainly no corruption to speak of. We also spent literally months researching agencies before we signed on with them in the first place so to own up to the fact that we had made a choice that was not the best for us was not easy or fun. The bottom line, though, is that we are needy :-) We need more than our old agency could offer. We need things like current experience, consistent communication, solid answers, frequent updates, understanding of the laws and special rules in our state, etc. Fact is, most licensed agencies can't yet provide these things. It takes time to get the program up and running. We wish our old agency no ill will. We know they will do an excellent job in Vietnam after things are all smoothed out. We just couldn't be the guinea pigs. It wasn't personal.

But it's what we need and we don't want to wait. We are at a semi-critical juncture. We should get our 171H next week. At that time we will be DTV. We needed to make this decision NOW before we turn over our precious paperwork and documents that we've worked so hard to gather.

So what have we learned since signing on with our new agency? Well, we wasted a lot of time and money. That pretty well sucks. But in the grand scheme, it's ok. We have a lot of documents we never really needed. We also spent a lot of time and emotion trying to get answers to questions that seemed pretty simple and never really got the clear answers we needed. Now we have those answers so we know exactly how to proceed. The confidence we have gained since switching definitely indicates we did the right thing for us.

So what's on the horizon now? We still hope to be DTV by next week but that rests solely in the hands of the USCIS. There is a family or two ahead of us on the list at our new agency but they expect to have a new batch of referrals in the next month or two. Meanwhile, we'll file our dossier and be ready to roll. We still plan to travel this fall.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 5/10/2006§

Tick Tock
Here I am, sitting at the computer, watching the pot, waiting for it to boil. Pathetic, I know.

Next week, maybe, we might maybe possibly get our I-171H, it is rumored. Or at least it is speculated. Sort of. There is this lady, you see. And she got her fingerprints done two weeks before us. And she got her approval two weeks ago! So you see - I draw conclusions! Plus then there is my friend Nicole who appears to be a psychic. She's always right. She has said for months now that it is coming at the beginning of May. I thought she was smoking the crack rock again. Apparently she's just more intuitive than me. I hope. It's too soon to say, you know.

Meanwhile, we are waiting on our final two (of five) passports. They should come by mid-month. Sloooow. Oh and also? we are waiting on our I-171h. Did I mention that? We are also going through the motions of pretending to get our dossier prepared for authentication. I am convincing myself that it is now OK to get those time-sensitive documents. Really, though, I can right? If I do it now, even if we don't get our approval until next month and don't get a referral until the month after that and don't travel for two more months, we'll still be within the 6 month window. So I'm going to go ahead and do it. Maybe. I don't want to jinx anything. Not that I'm superstitious. I do have this one document that needs to be certified in Texas so that will go out this week for sure.

In other news, I finished my first sweater for Madeline. It's chunky and soft and pink. I'm starting on a beautiful jumper that will take me 100 years to finish. Perfect for watching the pot boil, me thinks. Can I bring knitting needles on an International flight, I wonder? I'm also starting two new non-adoption-related books (did you know they existed? I just found out!).

In other family news, our family is going through the chicken pox. One kid down, 4 more to go. Thankfully the one down is the littlest, so the most exhausting. I fared worse than he did. I'm exhausted, sick from lack of sleep, irritable and moody. Of course I know the older kids will be sicker but they will also sleep like humans and not like, well, what wakes up every 10 minutes all night long? I don't know.

Hope everyone is doing well, enjoying their referrals, getting ready for travel soon.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 5/02/2006§

Name: Stepping On Legos
Stepping On Legos Stepping On Legos Home: TX, United States
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