Fingerprints & Politics

August 25, 2008

As part of our application to adopt a child from another country, we have to be fingerprinted from an official department of U.S. Immigration office. Thankfully, there happens to be one in downtown Cleveland. We applied and were given our instructions of when our appointment would be. There is no phone number or email address to contact if you can’t make it, you just go 🙂 Our appointment was this past Thursday at 11am. Thankfully we both have jobs that allow us the flexibility to adjust our schedules.

So, we went up to Cleveland to the 12th floor of the AJC Federal Building. It was such an interesting experience because there were all kinds of people there from all over the world, taking this step to become an american citizen. There were also several people like us who are in the adoption process. We were so excited that we wanted to take a picture of us getting fingerprinted. So we asked the immigration officer but he said no. Apparently there is a strict policy against taking pictures. The guy there told us that the Cleveland Cavaliers center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, or “big Z” as they call him :), was adopting a child from Lithuania. He wanted to get a picture taken of the fingerprinting but they told him no too. “Z” is over 7 feet tall, so if they said no to him, we weren’t going to argue 🙂 But, it was a very exciting day because that is the last step to being officially US approved to adopt our little St. Pete!!

fingerprinting successful!

fingerprinting successful!

This past week, I have definitely felt a very wide range of emotions. Obviously, many of you have heard about the conflict going on between Russia and Georgia. Every morning I would wake up and check yahoo news to read the latest. Each day my thoughts would go from “Yay, Russia is pulling out of Georgia” to “Ahh – they’re still there!” Once I learned that America was getting involved I grew concerned that this could affect our adoption. I finally called our social worker at CWA to just get a feel of their thoughts on the situation. They obviously can not tell us what to do, but they gave some great insight. They told us that despite the conflict, everything is “business as usual.” After talking with them I now feel very confident that our adoption will move forward uninterrupted.

Another great thing that they told us was that they will have a lot of grace in this situation and if something does happen and Russia does close it’s doors to our adoption, we have the option of receving all of our money back, which we would then just put into another one of the other countries CWA works with. So, that gave me tremendous comfort.

I’ve also been going through all of these insecurities of wondering the Russian officials who approve us as adoptive parents will like us. Obviously, it is up to the judge in Russia whether they see us fit to be parents of one of their children. My mind keeps battling thoughts of “what if we’re not rich enough?” or “what if we look too young?” or “what if..?” The enemy surely has a way of bringing up every insecurity and bringing it to the forefront of our minds, doesn’t he? And of course, as we continue to get closer and closer to actually bringing our baby home, I am still completely at a loss of how God is going to financially provide. We have raised about 1/4 of our total costs, which is absolutely amazing and we are so grateful!!! But, that also means that we have 3/4 to go, which at times seems daunting.

On a positive note, at 10:30 this morning, our home study was officially APPROVED!!! Yay! So, now we can move forward with applying for grants. There are 3 different organizations we are applying with so we are praying that God will stir in them a desire to give generously!

We are also looking at taking out a significant loan to help cover the costs of the adoption. So, that is where I have been emotionally this week. But in the midst of all these emotions, I truly do feel an underlying peace that passes all understanding. I am praying that this peace will guard our hearts and our minds through the power of Christ.

Our desire is to enjoy this process and depend completely on Him. We have known from the beginning that this adoption is HIS and we are along for the journey. As are all of you. Thank you for journeying with us. As we say so often, we know that there is NO WAY we could do this without your prayers, your constant support and encouragment and your financial gifts. I can’t wait for you to meet our baby. “St. Pete” is definitely going to know that he/she is loved by MANY people.

Updates:

  • fingerprints completed! Now we wait on US approval
  • home study completed! Now we wait for it to be mailed to us and then we will send a very large package of papers to the state of Ohio to be authenticated. After that, the papers go to CWA to be translated into Russian and then off to Russia they go!
  • We have begun filling out grant applications. They say it takes about a month before we’ll hear anything further.

Prayer:

  • continue to pray for little “St. Pete” – that he/she would be loved and cared for. Pray for his/her birth parents to know that they made a good decision in choosing life.
  • continued speed of paperwork with no glitches
  • wisdom for Steve and me as we make all kinds of decisions: from loans to paper work to logistics to baby names 🙂 – He still wants the name “Ralph” – after my stuffed raccoon.
  • for continued peace amist many emotions – that God would be our Rock and stability

Until next Monday, love Steve & Kate

A Creative Solution

August 18, 2008

Have you ever sat across from someone in a conversation and felt so inspired and motivated? After talking to them you feel like you could run a marathon or face your biggest fears or adopt a baby from Russia? ☺ Well, that is how I felt a few days ago.

I had coffee with a great friend. She is a fellow youth leader and a mother of a two of our high school students at the Chapel. She shared with me that she and her family has been praying about how they could help us financially with our adoption. But she said that what they could give as a family is not as much as what they desire to give. So, they began praying about how they could help more and in the process, God gave her an amazing idea that she wanted to run by me.

She said that although she didn’t have they money to GIVE big, she did feel like God has given her creativity and networking abilities to PLAN big. So, she brought this idea before me of hosting a fundraiser dinner. She would ask local grocery stores to donate food, and gather people to help serve and decorate. All kinds of people will be invited from friends and neighbors to students and their families, with the goal of putting all of the profits towards our agency fees. Wow! She is taking this idea and running with it, while putting people in place to make it happen. The plans are in motion. It was so exciting and humbling to sit with her as she shared this idea God laid on her heart.

I’ll post more details when we get more as far as dates and times. So far it sounds like it could be an awesome event. It will probably be at an outdoor shelter/park with a time of worship and prayer after the dinner. I’m so excited!! I was again reminded that God is in the business of blowing away my expectations and thoughts on how I imagined we would raise our needed funds. He is stirring more in people’s hearts than just the giving of their money, but the giving of their talents, of their abilities, and of their passions, using all of these things to help bring little St. Pete into our arms. We are truly blessed to know such amazing people who are walking this path with us.

Today, Steve and I spent a good part of the day at the Cleveland Airport. We were saying goodbye to three of our high school students who have taken the leap of faith to spend one year on the mission field. Two were heading to South Africa and one was going to Europe. It was so special to spend time with them and their families, praying for them, crying with them and being excited for them.

As we waited, Steve and I watched people come in and out of the terminals. We tried to figure out everyone’s “story” of what brought them to the airport that day. It got us thinking about our story and how the Cleveland airport is going to hold a special place in our hearts over the next year or so. There is one door that everyone comes through to exit the terminals. We began imagining what it will be like to bring our baby over the Cleveland airport “threshold” and into their new world. We thought about all of the people who will be so excited to meet little St. Pete. We sat there in tears, already emotional from saying goodbye, thinking about what it will be like to introduce our baby to everyone.

We are again, so very grateful for those of you journeying with us. We continue to learn that we are receiving financial donations from family members, friends and high school students at our church! We are just so grateful. Thanks for responding to the stirrings in your heart to give however you can. We love you!

Updates:

  • We are still in the process of colleting and authenticating paperwork to send to CWA. Our goal is by the beginning of September to have everything sent to CWA and the second big chunk of money ($12,000). Once all of that is turned in, we just wait to hear back from Russia!!
  • We are praying that Steve’s background check will come in quickly. He was “randomly selected” for a more in-depth screening, which takes longer. This is holding up the completion of our homestudy which means we still cannot apply for grants just yet.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for the orphanage workers, for love and patience as they take care of our little baby.
  • Pray for the ongoing issues with Russia and Georgia – that the conflicts would resolve quickly and not affect our adoption.
  • Pray for God to continue to stir in the hearts of people to give – whether it be financially or creatively with the gifts/talents God has given them

We’ll update again next Monday. Love, Kate & Steve

A Realization

August 11, 2008

Steve and I were having our weekly date lunch today at this little middle-eastern restaurant called Aladdin’s. We were sitting outside on this beautiful “fall-feeling” day. As it has been for the last couple of months, our conversation turned to adoption.

We began thinking about where we are in the process. With a lot of paperwork and steps behind us, we realized that if we stay on “schedule” with how an average Russian adoption proceeds, we could potentially be picking up our baby in 8-9 months! And then, a crazy thought came to me. I realized, that if this is the case, our baby is probably born.

Babies in Russia cannot go up for adoption until they are at least 9 months old and then it is usually a few months after they are put up for adoption that the paper work and court dates are processed. Obviously, I don’t want to put God on a time line. He is bigger than my thoughts and ideas of how He is going to bring us to our baby. But, the possibility of our baby being born gave me great excitement and at the same time some anxiety over meeting our little “St. Pete.” I just want to meet him/her NOW!!

For the first time ever, Steve said to me that he just wanted a baby tomorrow. It was so wonderful to hear him say that. I know that for many years, we have both been guarded over our thoughts and desires for a baby. This was especially true for Steve, since he has NEVER wanted to make me feel bad over our inability to have a biological child. But now, with this process feeling more and more “real”, (finding out the region of our child, getting further along in the paperwork) both of our feelings and desires are slowly unlocking as God is preparing our hearts for loving this little baby that we can soon say is “ours.”

Thanks for journeying with us. We have been so encouraged by your words and excitement for us. We feel your anticipation with us and are so blessed by it! We are also so blessed to know that little “St. Pete” is going to have hundreds of people praying and cheering for him/her throughout their life. We are so grateful for your support and that God has put so many people that care for us into our lives!

Updates:

  • We’ve done all we can to complete our home study, now we are waiting on its clearance
  • Our immigration application has been accepted and so now we wait for them to contact us for more fingerprints
  • We are continuing to see money trickle in from family, friends, high school students, and acquaintances. We are so grateful for each and every donation

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for our baby (who is probably born) to be loved, to feel safe and to be well taken care of
  • Pray for wisdom as we fill out lots of paper work and for speed and accuracy as the paper work gets authenticated and processed
  • Pray for continued financial support to come in and for God to continue to stir in the hearts of people to give

Until next Monday, Kate & Steve

Bonding

August 5, 2008

Kate has been writing these blogs since day one so I figured I would contribute a little here and there (Kate is a much better writer).

Right now we are experiencing a major part of the adoption process: waiting. Much of this journey is hustling to complete piles of paperwork, writing checks, getting them in the mail and then…more waiting. Sometimes it’s waiting for extended periods of time. One of the things we are waiting for right now is the clearance of our background check. Once this happens we’ll have the green light to apply for grants and scholarships through foundations like the one singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman runs.

Part of what we are doing in the meantime is educating ourselves. We are required to do quite a bit of reading. We are learning lots about the unique needs and special care one must give to an adopted child. One of these unique issues an adopted child faces is bonding to the adoptive parents. In the first few months of a baby’s life, they learn the concept of trust. They learn that when they cry, someone will come and take care of them. They learn to trust that their needs will be met. In some cases, however, babies learn that crying doesn’t get them anything – there is no one who will respond to their needs, and so they miss the “trust” phase of relating with people, and learn how to “make it on their own.” This is a huge issue in many children who are adopted, especially from places like orphanages where there are just too many children. As much as the orphange workers can try, they can’t always meet every need of every child. So we have been learning a lot about how to build attachments and bonds with our child…because it is absolutely possible to re-teach a child to trust others. God’s redemptive work is absolutely amazing, even in the life of a little baby.

Kate nannies 4 little children: two young girls and two twin boys. This past weekend she watched all 4 children by herself. Needless to say I tried my best to drive down to the house she was staying to pitch in where I could. I would often play with the twin babies while Kate got the girls ready for bed. I couldn’t help but fall in love with these little guys. But as I held them it was so clear that they didn’t know who I was. It was obvious to them and to me that I was just a stranger.

I always assumed that babies were too young to know any better. However, I am reminded of how amazing it is that God designed humans with an innate need for love. As I held the boys I was began thinking about when we eventually get our adopted child. I cannot assume they will instantly love us. In fact, they will probably be afraid and confused – new sounds, new smells, new foods, new languages, new time zone. Although we’ll already love the child and be ready for him/her to live with us, we’ll have to realize that we will be strangers to this little baby at first. It is going to take some time for our child to bond to us. It makes me pray even more earnestly for his/her current caregiver, that they would love and nurture our future child. There have been many studies that have gone on that show that even a small amount of love or physical touch given to a baby can allow them to have an easier time attaching or bonding to their adopted parent. So we pray for those special orphanage workers in St. Petersburg to love on and touch all of the babies, but selfishly, that they will do this with ours.

Updates:

  • money continues to trickle in from people all over the world-literally.
  • We are so humbled and amazed at the support we are getting, it’s incredible
  • We are slowly but surely learning who contributed so we are beginning the process of writing thank you notes

Prayer Requests:

  • for patience as we wait
  • for the nurturing of our future child
  • for continued financial support

Until next week, Steve & Kate