Friday, December 26, 2008

Wonderful Christmas by James

I've got a lot to write, but I'll try to make this quick. After a wonderful Christmas Day with Mary's family, we are going to another "Christmas" at my dad's house in Eastland today.

We finished both of our meetings with our social worker, Kristin, last weekend. She is a very kind person, and we think that she will be great to work with. She had long conversations with us about parenting, adopting, and our own childhoods. She also checked to make sure that the home environment is safe for children. Although we passed many tests, including having a bathroom, running water, and food, we were surprised to learn that a medicine cabinet above a sink is not sufficient to keep medicine away from a child. We actually have to put them so far out of reach that Mary can't even reach them, or else lock them in a box. We think that is very funny.

Other than that, everything seemed to go well, and Kristin will be writing up the report and giving us a copy to review at the start of the new year. After that, we will need to attend a few classes on easing the transition for our adopted child, hopefully by the end of January, and then the homestudy will be sent to South Korea. At that point our wait time officially begins, and it could be up to a year before we get a referral for a child, and then another 6-8 months before we are able to travel to get him/her.

The timing of the travel is important, and something that we are thinking and praying seriously about. I'll post more on that later.

On the very, very bright side, we have finished all of the baking for the holidays, and although I haven't run the numbers officially yet, I think we did pretty well. We have been so blessed by the generosity of all of our friends and family, many of whom have given very generously in support of bringing our yet unknown baby home. To them, we can not express our gratitude enough.

As many people may know, Mary and I decided a few months ago not to give many gifts this holiday season in order to continue to save for our adoption. The deal we made with our family was that we weren't going to buy for them, and so they can't buy for us. Otherwise, it would make us feel terrible. It turned out to be much harder to do than we initially thought. It has been especially difficult because we enjoy so much finding gifts for our friends and family members. Mary still feels like we should go out and get something. She just asked me again for the 100th time if I think we should go ahead and give presents.

We did buy gifts for Mary's mom because she doesn't really have many other people to celebrate Christmas with. And we didn't want to deprive her of the joy she has in giving gifts. Sylvia is truly one of the most generous people we know, and looks forward to birthdays and Christmas so much for the chance to give gifts. In the end, we did also give each other some small stuff for our stockings. So, it still felt like Christmas.

As a side note, and a conclusion as I wrap this up so that I can get ready to leave for my dad's house, I've kind of lingered on about the gift exchange, but I think that this Christmas we have felt the presence of Christ more than ever before. We went to the candlelight Christmas service at church this year, and I can say that we were both very moved. We know that it is in God's plan for us to adopt our baby. Just as He blessed Mary with the infant Christ, He will will bless my Mary with the baby she is meant to have. We keep faith in that at the end of this long and sometimes harrowing experience, we will experience the joy of parenthood that is in His plan.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here we go again... (by James)

So, after many, many long hours, Mary and I were able to just barely make our deadline for the baked goods for Thanksgiving. I think the menu we chose was a bit ambitious. I don't believe in taking shortcuts, so we used only name-brand, premium ingredients, and made everything from scratch, including the pie crusts. We literally baked non-stop for over 36 hours. But, when everthing was said and done, with the generous support of our friends we were blessed with making in profit almost half of the emigration fees that were our goal. We are and will always be grateful to those who have supported us in this sometimes overwhelming endeavor. we are again. It seems like only yesterday we were compiling our 20+ page homestudy application and now we have our first appointment with our social worker. Her name is Kristin, and she seems very nice. Now, we are officially very nervous. Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 7:00 p.m. I am confident that everything will be fine, but when someone prefaces a meeting by sending you two pages of things that must be in place before they arrive, it does give you some anxiety. With things progressing, I think it kind of woke us up to the fact that we need to get our emigration stuff going as soon as possible. On the adoption boards, it seems that sometimes it takes acts of Congress to get the paperwork approved, and we don't want any more delays than necessary.

Today we passed out flyers for another bake sale. This time, I will be off work for the week ahead of time, so I will have more time to prepare and plan out a schedule to get everything made on time. Its exhausting to think about it right now, but we are getting excited about it again. We picked a more modest menu that will be a little easier on us. Hopefully, we will be able achieve the same success as we had before and will reach our goal of filing for the paperwork to bring our baby home.

We did also decide recently to apply for the Holt Waiting Child Program. The WC Program is a special program at Holt that helps children who are more difficult to place in homes. It includes sibling groups, older children, and children with special needs. This was not an easy decision for us. To begin with, we had to answer an awful questionnaire about the conditions we were willing to accept for a Waiting Child. It was heartbreaking for both of us to go down the list and say, basically, "Yes, a deaf child is fine, but not a child with cerebral palsy." That is just an example, and not necessarily what we decided on. Each choice felt like a judgement, and we both struggled with those calls. The most interesting part about it, though, was that it forced us to really consider each outcome. Obviously, nothing is certain, and any child could develop any kind of disability, just as a biological child could be born with a special need of some sort. We just pray, as we have been praying, that God gives us the child who is meant to be ours.