Monday, March 29, 2010


When Justin and I began to talk about beginning the adoption process again there were many things to consider. We both feel that going back to the Vladivostock region is appropriate, and there was no way we could go back to that region and not work with Irina and Lana. These two ladies have a very special place in our heart and we look forward to working with them again. Our first adoption was completed with Children’s Hope International. We had a successful experience and they were very professional. We have learned however that Irina and Lana now work with World Links International Adoption agency. This agency is accredited in Russia. We did some research and were pleased with the experiences we heard/read about. So this time we will be partnering with World Links and Irina and Lana to become a family of 6!

On a side note, I called this morning about our IL State Police clearance letter. The lady was very pleasant and said she would mail out a notarized copy today. It was almost as if correcting this mistake is a daily occurrence for them. Unfortunately Justin’s clearance hasn’t arrived yet so I am sure I will be making another call shortly to get his resent. Thankfully at this point it really isn’t that big of a deal.

Reminder to self: Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Let the fun begin!

Justin and I sent off our fingerprints to the IL State police for NOTARIZED clearance letters stating we are not criminals. We sent a cover letter with the word notarized in bold, in caps, underlined, etc… We were warned that many families are getting their letters returned unnotarized. I was hoping my overkill on the cover letter might save us the same headache. I was wrong!

What did I say I was going to work on?!?!? Patience???? Lord grant me the patience I need to not become cynical about this process so early on. We know the end result is worth any amount of trouble we have to go through to get there.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where are we in the process?

So the number one question we have been getting is how long will the process take. Our answer is one we are used to giving… “We have no idea”. It is very hard to compare this go around with our first adoption. One could think… last time we sent our I600-A (form starting the process to get approval from immigration services to bring a child into the county) on May 24th. This time we mailed the paperwork on March 24th. So can we expect a referral 2 months earlier than last time? No. There are too many variables. You never know when you are going to hit a roadblock in the process. Plus last time our papers were only in Russia for 7 days when we got Blake’s referral information. We have to expect that wait to be much longer this time.

On March 19th, we had our post placement report visit with our caseworker to get everything prepared for Blake’s one year post placement report. We then stuck around the office for a couple more hours and had our first visit for our updated home study. We have gotten a lot of paperwork done already: Pet records; well water testing; state fingerprints; FBI fingerprints; employment letters; tax return information; plus several other things. We have to have medical information on each of us that isn’t more than one year old so that means Brady, Madison, and I will probably have to make an appointment for that soon. Justin should be good at this point because of his CDL physical and Blake had a physical for preschool this year. So we have a couple of things to keep us busy and then we wait for paperwork to return from a number of different people.

There is a lot more to this process of course but the bottom line is what we grew accustomed to. We work frantically to get our paperwork done so that nothing is waiting on us. Then we wait and wait for others to process their paperwork. Then we repeat that process over and over again.
Also to answer another common question… We are open to a boy or girl 36 months or younger. We are not requesting one or the other. Brady doesn’t have preference. Madison says she wants to be the only girl some days then on other days she says she really wants a sister to play with and talk to and to annoy Brady with her. Blake just says he wants to be big big. He wants to be big like Brady. He just wants the brother/sister to be littler than him.

I have set some personal growth goals to accomplish during this process. One is to work on my control issues and my lack of patience. I have promised myself that I will not spend every minute I can getting on the internet trying to make sure there isn’t something we are missing in the process. I have promised myself that I will not just look for the end of this process and being united with our son or daughter. I will try my best to enjoy the journey along the way and not take each day for granted. Please feel free to remind me of these goals and hold me accountable to them later on when I need to refocus!

At least one good thing...

The controversial health care bill doesn’t sit well with some of us, but at least one part appealed to our family today.

The Adoption Tax Credit, which was scheduled to expire in 2010, has been extended for one year, through 2011. The Adoption Tax Credit will see several positive adjustments, as confirmed by Joint Council on International Adoption Services:
  • The maximum credit will increased from $12,150 to $13,170
  • The Adoption Tax Credit was made refundable. If a family has no tax liability, the IRS will refund the amount due.
The extension of the Adoption Tax Credit through 2011, was passed as part of the health care reform bill which was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. The changes have been published in detail by the Journal of Accountancy:

"For 2010, the maximum adoption credit is increased to $13,170 per eligible child (a $1,000 increase). This increase applies to both non-special needs adoptions and special needs adoptions. Also, the adoption credit is made refundable. The new dollar limit and phase-out of the adoption credit are adjusted for inflation in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2010. Also, the scheduled sunset of EGTRRA provisions relating to the adoption credit is delayed for one year (i.e., the sunset becomes effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2011).

For adoption assistance programs, the maximum exclusion is increased to $13,170 per eligible child (a $1,000 increase). The new dollar limit and income limitations of the employer-provided adoption assistance exclusion are adjusted for inflation in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2010. The EGTRRA sunset of provisions relating to adoption assistance programs is also delayed for one year (i.e., the sunset becomes effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2011)."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yes we remember what we said!

Believe me when I say we have asked ourselves a hundred times… Are we sure about this? Is this really what God is calling us to do or are we misinterpreting things? One year ago, the month of March was very difficult for us. We had met Blake in December and did not get our call for our court date until April 1st. I was a mess last March. I remember saying “I just want to get Blake out of Russia and never return to that country again!” Justin and I remember sitting in the Vlad Inn missing Brady and Madison immensely, we hadn’t seen the sun in days, and we wanted nothing more than to get Blake home and put that part of our journey behind us. It is kinda like when a woman is in labor and in the middle of the pains says she will NEVER have another child again. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that it is short term pain for a long term gain. We know we can survive the process one more time. We may be a little beat up and battered along the way, but to be able to complete our family with our fourth child will make all of the waiting, anticipation, tears, and homesickness worth it.

Private Blog

During our last journey we kept a blog that was open for everyone to see similar to this one. Several months ago we chose to make that blog private as it is now more of a family journal that we will share with the kids when they get older. We have connected with families that want to know about our first adoption experience and we don’t mind sharing. Just email us at with your email address and we’ll add you to the readers list. We will continue to update that blog as we have in the past. This blog will serve specifically to document our continued journey to becoming a family of 6!

Where to begin?

I forgot how hard it was to begin a blog! Finding the words to bring everyone up to speed on where our hearts are at this particular time is very hard.

Let’s just start with the basics…. Justin and I have known for a long time that we wanted to have four children – in our minds that is a large family. We have been blessed with two biological children. Brady is our first born. He entered our lives on October 3, 2000 and is currently in the third grade. He enjoys life immensely and takes very few things seriously. He is creative and loves to collect junk in order to make gadgets or contraptions. He is an awesome big brother and welcomes the idea of having another little brother or sister. Madison was born on October 9, 2002 and is currently in the first grade. She loves to dance, sing, and tumble. She loves her brothers but is quick to let them know when she is annoyed by them. Our third blessing is Blake. He was born in Artem City in Russia on September 30, 2005. He joined our family on April 16th 2009. He is quite the charmer. His big brown eyes and long eyelashes never go unnoticed and he has learned to use them to work in his favor. He loves anything with wheels and also chocolate. Blake wants to be a big brother just like Brady.

So that leads us to where we are now. We know that there are two ways in which we can have a fourth child enter into our family. After much prayer we have decided to begin the adoption process again. If this is the path we are meant to take we hope to return to the Primorsky region in Russia – Vladivostock.