Adoption

We Are Going to Get Our Girl!

I will keep this post short and sweet since my last post was really long. We are heading to Korea to bring our daughter home in just a few days! Our prayer through this whole process was to have her home by Christmas, and that prayer was answered. She will be with us for Christmas, and we couldn’t be happier! This happened WAY faster than we thought, so we have been incredibly busy getting ready.

Please pray for her sweet heart as this transition will be very hard for her. She will be leaving her foster family, that she loves very much, and moving in with her forever family that she doesn’t really know yet. We love her very much, and she will come to know that, but we know it will be hard for her.

I can’t wait to update you with our trip and pictures of our girl. We are finally going to Bring Home Baby Stoyk! Wahoo!

Adoption

EP Approved!

We got some very exciting news yesterday… we are EP approved! What does that mean? EP stands for Emigration Permission, and it basically means we have permission to take our girl to the U.S. from Korea. This is a huge step in the process, and honestly, the wait for this approval has been really hard for me. There has been so much waiting in this process, unfortunately there is still more waiting ahead of us, but seeing our sweet girl’s face everyday and knowing we are so close to bringing her home is so hard! Seriously, just wait until you see her kissable cheeks! You will completely understand.

So what comes next? Now our case will be handed over to the Korean court. This should happen within about a week. Once the Korean court has our file they will review all the paper work, they may ask us for additional pictures or information, and then they will issue us a court date. We will be notified of the court date about 1 month before we need to travel. This next step could take 2-4 months, but do you know what that means? We will get to meet our baby girl in 2-4 months! Of course we always hope our wait is shorter than they estimate, but as we have learned in this process, there are no guarantees.

I may have been crying in the baby girl aisle at Hobby Lobby today as the magnitude of what is about to happen hit me. I am not a crier, as my friends and family would tell you, but knowing we are so close to getting to see our baby girl in person and kiss her sweet cheeks is just too much. Our friends threw us an amazing baby shower last weekend, and we have all the things we need for her once she gets home. This approval just brought us so much closer to bringing home Baby Stoyk!

Adoption

The Wait… Care Packages

It has been a while since we have updated everyone, so we thought we would do a fun post about how we are trying to make the wait go a little faster!

We get to send packages to Korea each moth either through our agency or with a family that is traveling to meet their child. Our agency has a rule that our packages have to fit in a gallon size zip lock bag, so we have to be very creative when we pick things out to send.

This month’s package included two dresses with leggings, a sweet little bunny her brothers picked out for her, a ball, yogis, granola bars, and a board book. For Foster Mom and her family we included some pecans from my trip to Georgia.

We spend a lot of time searching for the perfect things to send each month. The boys and I found the snacks and outfit at Target, and the bunny and ball are from a cute little store in our town. We made the board book at a site called Pint Sized Productions, and it is perfect. We put our family on the cover and then each page has a picture of one of us and our name in both Korean and English. We even included a picture of our dog on the last page.

After finding all the perfect gifts, I spend a lot of time jamming them all in to a gallon size bag. I am getting quite good at this now. This month we are sending our package with a sweet family who is going to meet their little one. We are so thankful to the people we have met in the adoption community, and we can’t wait until we get to do the same for other families when we travel to Korea.

We still have 4-6 months until we have our baby home, but putting these packages together is helping to pass the time. We have been EP (emigration permission) submitted for about two weeks now, so we are waiting to get the call that we are EP approved. We are praying that will happen in the next few months, but EP submission is a huge step in bringing home Baby Stoyk!

I wanted to include a few more pictures of care packages we have sent in case other adoptive families could use some ideas.

This was our first package and it included an outfit, pajamas, shoes, teether crackers, yogurt melts, a Mini Mouse book, and a rattle. For Foster Mom I included a lavender soap, soap holder, nail file and leather bracelet.
We sent this package with a family traveling, so I was able to send two gallon sized bags. In this package we sent two dresses with matching headbands, bibs, yogis, fruit squeezer, musical toy, and a book that we recorded for her to listen to. For Foster Mom we included a small makeup bag, lip gloss, hand cream, and a cold and flu bath tea.
This package included this sweet dress with matching bow, Matilda Jane outfit, Sophia the Giraffe toy, and Mini Mouse stuffed animal. The dress took up a lot of space in the gallon bag, so we weren’t able to send as much. For Foster Mom we included some honey sticks, and a bees wax lip gloss assortment.
Adoption

What We Know Now

Through this process we have been confronted with a lot of questions. We know most people mean well, but their comments and questions can sting. A few of the most memorable things people have said to us include:

-Why would you ever want to adopt?

-How much do they cost?

-Why did their parents “give them up” for adoption?

-Aren’t you happy with the 3 you already have?

-You know they won’t be able to understand you right?

-It’s too expensive! You won’t be able to do anything fun for years!

If you know me well, you know how hard it is for me to respond to these questions with patience and grace. Sometimes I want to tell people how rude and ignorant they are being, and tell them to mind their own business, but I don’t. Why? Because this is my opportunity to educate people on how to be more sensitive about the things they say regarding adoption. We have learned so much during this process, and we want to take this opportunity to educate our friends and family so they might be able to better support others going through this process in the future.

I recently read a book called In on it: What adoptive parents would like you to know about adoption by Elisabeth O’Toole. I think this book is a fantastic read for anyone that is adopting or has family or friends that are adopting. It is a very quick read and has such great tips. I have highlighted some of my favorite points from the book below.

  • As a family member or friend, your support and reassurance during the process helps!
  • Trust our judgment and know that we did our research and KNOW we are doing what is right for our family.
  • Adoption starts with loss. Through this process we have lost our privacy as we let our agency into all parts of our lives, and we have lost all control over the process and timeline. Our child has lost their birth mother, and will be loosing their birth country and culture. And we have to acknowledge the loss the birth parents will experience their whole lives.
  • Showing your interest by asking questions and trying to understand the process means so much.
  • It is important to treat adoptive parents like the expectant parents they are.
  • Understand that once the child comes home it is very important for the immediate family to form their bond with the child. This might mean no visits or going out for a while.
  • Treat new adoptive parents just as you would any new parent.
  • DO NOT ask adoption questions in front of the child.
  • Respect the child’s privacy and don’t take the parents creating boundaries personally.
  • Don’t refer to children who are adopted as “their adopted daughter” or “she’s adopted”, simply say “their daughter/son” because that is what they are.
  • Knowing a child has come from a different country does not mean you know what they will be like as a child or an adult. “Stereotypes limit our ability to know each other. You don’t want to know a stereotype; you want to know a person.”

As a friend or family member you might be presented with questions about adoption also. Try to take a positive stance and maintain the families privacy. You can also help your children to understand adoption and know how to respond appropriately. If you are reading this, then you are probably “in on it” too. You are probably a part of someone’s adoption circle, and that is so important!

I love the final quote in her book that is from a grandfather, “Every child gladdens your heart. What happens after a child comes into the family is as important as how they arrived into it.”

Thank you for taking time to read this! If you are interested in borrowing In on it by Elisabeth O’Toole, I would be happy to let you borrow it. We have learned so much during this process (there is still so much more to learn) and we hope you are all taking something away from these posts too. Thank you for your support during this process to Bring Home Baby Stoyk!

Korean Adoption

Matched!!

As many of your have heard, we have been matched with the sweetest baby!! This happened WAY faster than we thought it would. We have been told all along that it would be 6-12 months to receive a match, and we only waited 3 weeks! I can’t even explain how excited our family is and how blessed we feel that it happened so quickly. We truly believe all the hiccups we have encountered along the way were so we would be ready for this specific child!

A lot of people have been asking why we didn’t post on Facebook or Instagram what the child’s gender, age and name is. We were asked by our agency to keep all identifying information off of social media, and we want to respect our child’s privacy. Please know that we can’t wait to share more once we have our baby in our arms.

Now for the question we get everyday… how long is it going to take to get the baby in our arms? Well, our agency has told us it could take 6-12 months to finalize our adoption and bring our child home. Right now we are waiting for the following:

1st – I-600a approval- this gives us permission to bring a child in to the country. We are hoping this will come any day now. We need this permission to move forward with the next steps. I am a little obsessed with checking the mail! – Approved one day after I wrote this post!

2nd – I-600 approval- this gives our specific child immigration approval

3rd – Emigration Permission Submission- this could take 2-4 months. This is the 1st step in the child’s exit process.

4th – Emigration Approval- this take 2-4 months during this time the Korean court will be reviewing our file for final adoption approval. This is the step right before submitting our file!

5th – Travel to Korea for 1st Court Appearance- we will receive notice about 3-6 weeks before we need to travel to Korea. When we are there we get to visit with our baby, complete court paperwork and appear in court. We will be there about 1 week.

6th – Pick up our Baby!- about 4 weeks after we get home from our first trip, we will travel back to Korea for our visa interview and to bring our sweet baby home!!!

When I look at this list of things left to do, it looks so short! We have been in this process for the past year, and we are so thankful for where it has taken us. We are praying really hard that the rest of this process goes by quickly, and we get our sweet baby here soon!

Thank you all for your love, support and prayers! Keep praying this process moves along quickly, and we get to Bring Home Baby Stoyk soon!

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. 🙂

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!

Uncategorized

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!