International Adoption

Control

I was listening to a podcast by Rachel Hollis when I was on the treadmill the other day. She said something that really helps describe where we are right now in our journey. She said, “Nobody will ever care about your dream as much as you do.”

This might sound negative, but please do not take it that way. We are currently in a stage of waiting. Waiting for home study approval, waiting for people to write reference letters, waiting for financial clearance, and waiting to take the next step to bring our baby home. In our hearts and minds all of this is to bring OUR BABY home. To everyone else, this is part of their jobs, something they do every day, and they do not have the personal connection that we do. We totally understand this, but boy it is hard to give control over when the stakes are so high.

When I was pregnant with my boys, I was sick, I could feel their tiny movements inside of me, I went to doctors appointments and was told what I could do to keep myself and my babies healthy, and I could talk to my friends who have had babies and get advice. Right now, I am not experiencing morning sickness, like I did with my pregnancies, but I am experiencing plenty of worry over this sweet baby that is waiting for us. Currently, everything is out of our control. We hurry up and get all of the paperwork done on our end, and then wait and pray that other people are getting things done on their end. We understand that this is our dream, our baby, but it sure is hard to help others understand the importance/urgency of deadlines in the adoption process.

It has currently been over two weeks since we have heard anything related to our adoption. We have multiple emails and phone calls out about different things, and we haven’t been getting replies. It has been a really tough couple of weeks, and we are trying to turn over our worry to God and remember that He has a plan for us and our baby. We appreciate all of your prayers. We are praying we hear some good news soon, so we can finally take our next step to bring home Baby Stoyk.

Korean Adoption

Humbling Experience

If you know us well, you know that we are not great at asking for help. We are stubborn and try to do everything ourselves. Whether that be hauling tree branches for hours to avoid calling a professional to pushing three boys in the stroller to get a run in instead of getting a babysitter, we aren’t great at asking for help. Well, this process has really forced us to lean on our friends and family, and boy have they shown up when we have needed them!

At the very beginning of this process, we needed someone to watch our kids for an entire day so we could go to Eau Claire for an initial interview. This was very last minute, but our friends stepped in and took care of all three boys for us. My mom has watched the boys while we have done countless hours of paperwork, education hours, and meetings with our social worker. We have had friends write us letters of recommendation, fill out questionnaires about us as a couple and family (more than once), signed off as a witness on our important papers, watch our classes so we could leave early to attend meetings, and prayed for us during this long, hard process.

Of course we have expressed our thanks to these people, but really just saying thank you isn’t enough. These people have all played an important part in our journey to bring Baby Stoyk home, and we will never be able to express how thankful we are for that. So to all of you that have helped, asked how things are going, and are praying for our family, we are so thankful and feel very blessed to have you all in our lives. Thank you for helping us continue to make steps toward bringing home Baby Stoyk.

Home Study

Paperwork Complete!

We drove to Eau Claire this afternoon to get our FINAL piece of paperwork for our home study signed. We had to visit a post adoption center in Eau Claire to see the resources they offer, and they are only open Monday-Thursday from 9-4. We left work a little early, made it there for a quick meeting, and then celebrated having all of our paperwork done and Eric’s birthday (a day early).

This is a BIG deal! We have spent the last 7 months filling out forms, attending meetings, sharing more personal information with strangers than we ever thought possible, and praying we would make it through this first part of the process. God has been with us every step of the way, and we are over the moon excited to mail everything out tomorrow. We are one step closer to bringing home Baby Stoyk!

Adoption, Family, International Adoption, Korean Adoption

Progress… Finally!

We had our FINAL home study visit this week. What a relief! We spent all of Monday night cleaning, and when I say cleaning, I mean under the fridge, the oven, the junk drawer, and inside cabinets. Because she was totally going to look in all of those places right?

I was worried all over again for these two visits (one Tuesday and one Wednesday) because we have a new social worker, since we are now working with Bethany Christian Services. We had only ever spoken to her on the phone one time, and now she was going to come and decide if were were suitable parents for a sweet baby from Korea. I didn’t know how thorough she was going to be, but I was pretty sure she was going to judge me on my socks-with-no-matches basket.

Our first meeting was on Tuesday night after school. Thanks to an awesome coworker, I was able to leave school a little early to make sure everything was ready. The boys came home, and we all played Play-Doh while we waited. Once she arrived, I felt better right away. She was very kind, sympathetic to all we had gone through with our previous agency closing, and has a great connection to Korea. We got right to work on a mountain of paperwork while the boys continued to play. She was here for about 2 1/2hrs. She spent some time talking to Eric and I separately, and interviewed the boys. Gus’ interview didn’t last too long. He won her over right away with his sweet smile and by holding her hand. When you have three boys ages 6, 3, and 1 you never really know what they are going to do or say, but I am happy to say they all did great! She left us with a bunch of paperwork to do, so Eric and I sat down for a few hours after she left and worked on that to be ready for the next day.

Eric and I took half-a-day off on Wednesday morning, and she returned to finish up our last visit. We had a few more things we needed to go over, she needed to check our fire alarms and extinguishers, and she needed to do a walk-through of our house. She left us with more paperwork and some education hours we need to complete before our home study can be completed.

So what is next?

We have 5 additional education hours that we need to get in before our home study can be written up. We have a book to read for that and will be writing up a book report on it. If you know Eric at all, you know he is not the biggest reader, so he is super thrilled about this assignment. ūüôā

Once we get our education hours done and submit the final paperwork, our social worker will, hopefully, approve us and write up our home study. After she writes up our home study, she will send a copy to our placing agency, AAC, and they will need to approve it. Once the home study is completely approved, we will be ready to get I600 approval (immigration approval). This might take a month or two, but once that is approved we will be ready to submit everything to Korea and wait for a match! It finally feels like we are getting closer to getting to see our baby!

We are so grateful to everyone for your support and prayers. A lot of you have been reaching out and asking to donate to help cover the high cost of agency fees and travel. We so appreciate this, and we are looking in to the best way for people to do this. We are doing everything we can right now to save every penny for this along with working on applying for adoption grants. The cost of adoption is one of the largest reasons people choose not to adopt, and we have said from the beginning that we will not let it be a barrier for our family.

Thank you all again for your love and support. Keep the prayers coming, and I hope to be able to update everyone again soon. We are one step closer to bringing home Baby Stoyk!

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Thankful

During this season of giving thanks, we are thankful that Bethany Christian Services is willing to take over our home study and that our placing agency, AAC, is willing to work with them also. This transition has not been an easy one. Trying to communicate with two different home study agencies and our placing agency has been hard. There have been a lot of days where we have felt like the middle-man with no control whatsoever over what is happening. Despite the struggles and surprises along the way, we are still thankful to be moving forward. 

So where are we in the process? On Wednesday we sent a huge stack of paperwork to Bethany. They do things a little differently than Lutheran Social Services, and they don’t set up their home study visits until you have completed the paperwork. Now that we have completed all of the paperwork (a lot of it the exact same as what we did for LSS) we should be ready to set up our home study visits. We still have not met our new case worker from Bethany, so we are looking forward to meeting them at our fist visit. We are unsure how many visits we will need to do with Bethany, because we were told that some of the visits we already did would transfer over. We are hopeful that some of the additional paperwork, visits, and trainings we have done will all count towards what we need to do for Bethany. Our case worker with LSS told us that she would be sending over our file to Bethany this week, so we think that will help to move things along also.

What’s next? After speaking with our placing agency and Bethany, we are still hoping to be done with our home study by February. This is a few months later than we had originally wanted to finish, but we are thankful it isn’t longer. After we submit our home study to AAC in February, we will apply for I-600 approval. This is basically immigration approval. That can take about 2 months to get approved. As soon as we are approved, we will send our Dossier (home study and all the other paperwork we have been working on) over to Korea so they can match us with a sweet baby. Then we wait! Our hope is to be submitted to Korea by April, Gus will be 2, so we will be more than meeting Korea’s 1 year age gap requirement. We have no idea how long it will take to get matched, but we are hopeful that we will not have to wait long.¬†

During this time of waiting for everything to come together and to finish our home study, we are working on saving every penny we can, reading a lot of books about adoption and Korea, and we are even trying to learn Korean! We really appreciate all of you who are reading this, asking questions, and praying for us along the way. We value all of your support, and we are so grateful to have amazing family and friends standing by us through this process. Even though we are moving slowing, submitting papers last week moved us one step closer to bringing home Baby Stoyk!

 

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Take Aways…

We attended a two day training in Madison this week, and passed, thank goodness! The training covered what it will be like to raise a child that is not our biological child, the attachment process, traveling to South Korea, and what life will be like for a child from South Korea living in the U.S.A. There was some good information given, and some important things for us to remember while going through this process and for when our child is home.

One of the things we talked about during the training was using Adoption Positive Language. This is something that we really hadn’t heard about until we began this process, so we think it would be a good thing to share with all of you.

Adoption Positive Language

Negative Language        Positive Language

Real Parent                                          Birth Parent/Biological Parent

Given Up/Given Away                         Placed for Adoption

Is Adopted                                               Was Adopted

Adopted Mom/Dad                              Mom/Dad

Own Child                                                Biological Child

Foreign Adoption                                  International Adoption

** I want to add a side note here that we do not expect everyone to use the correct positive adoption language 100% of the time. We completely understand this is new to most of our friends and family, and if we are being completely honest, we may have been scolded a few times during our training for saying the incorrect things. We are just hoping to educate people about this process, and do the best we can to make sure our child is coming home to a very accepting and loving environment.

I am also adding to this post a post I did a while ago called “Adoption Q & A”. There is a link to this post if you go to the menu, but since these seem to be the most common questions people want to know, we thought we would post it again.

Adoption Q & A

Are you adopting for North or South Korea?

We are adopting from South Korea.

Are you going to get a girl?

More boys are released for international adoption in South Korea. Families in Korea prefer to adopt girls domestically, so that leaves a large number of boys looking for forever families. We are pretty good at raising little boys, and we have a lot of little boy stuff, so we are open to taking a child of either gender.

How long will it take?

I wrote a blog post on the timeline, so please check that out under the menu tab, but the process typically takes about 24 months from the first application to brining the child home. Right now we are finishing our home study. We are hoping to be matched with a child in the spring.

How old will the baby be?

Children are not released to be adopted internationally until they are at least 6 months old. We could be matched with a child 6 months or older, and then after completing all the other steps would be bringing home a child that is between 18-24 months old.

Will the child have special needs?

There is always a possibility that any child could have a special need whether it is a biological or adopted child. We did complete a check list including the special needs that we felt like our family could care for, but that is something that we will keep private for the sake of our child.

How much will it cost?

Adoptions from South Korea typically cost between $30,000 ‚Äď $50,000.

Why South Korea and not the United States?

This is a very personal decision for anyone adopting. I have always wanted to adopt from South Korea, and know there are children all over the world that need to be adopted into loving families. For our family, we know that God has a child for us from South Korea, so that is where we are adopting from.

What are South Korea’s Requirements for Adoptive Parents?

South Korea has their own unique requirements for adoptive parents. Parents must be married for at least 3 years, between the ages of 25-44, cannot have more than 4 children already in the home, the youngest child in the home must be 1 year older than the child being adopted, parents must be free of any serious physical/mental illness, have no criminal history, and have a BMI of less than 30%.

 

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A Bump in the Road

We got an email from our social worker today asking if we could have a conference call with her and her supervisor at 4pm. I immediately had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a good phone call. I called her right away and asked if we could make the phone call a little earlier so we would be able to pick up the boys at 4:15. I asked if I needed to be concerned about this, and she said, “We can just talked about it this afternoon.” Ugh, that was definitely not good.

Eric came down to my classroom right after school and we waited for the phone call. Our social worker (from Lutheran Social Services) started off by saying she had her supervisor on the phone and this was a very difficult call to make. She told us they were discontinuing their international adoption program, so as of January 1st they would no longer be doing home studies for international adoptions. Cue the tears! I knew this was going to be a bad phone call, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine them saying they were going to end the program.

So what does this all mean? Lutheran Social Services (LSS) has been doing our home study, which we were almost done with. They are our home study agency and AAC is our placing agency that works with South Korea. Since our home study was not completed yet, we need to figure out if we will have LSS complete our home study and another agency update it before sending it to Korea, or if we will just scrap what we have done before and start over with another home study agency.

We will continue working with AAC as our placement agency, but there is still a huge question mark on what to do about our home study agency. We want to make sure we are doing things how Korea expects them to do done. We are waiting to hear back now from Bethany Christian services, and we will go from there. Bethany has a really good reputation as a home study agency, so we are hopeful they will make the drive to our small town to help us finish up our home study and do our post placement visits.

Right now it is just a waiting game, which is really hard for us, but we are trusting that God has a plan for us. We believe this was meant to be part of our path and there is still one special child that is meant for us in South Korea. Stay tuned for an update on what happens next. We are still going to attend a two day training next week  for adoptive parents, so that will help us at least feel like we are a step closer to Bringing Home Baby Stoyk.