06/29/09 - One Month Anniversary

One month closer to our children! Our paperwork was sent to Ethiopia one month ago today. That month has flown by and it has been so nice to not have to wonder when the next bit of paperwork will come in the mail! 8-10 months left, approximately, until a referral call from America World telling us they have two children for us!!!!

6/20/09 - Family Zoo Day

Perhaps there'll be two news faces at the table next year!!

Each summer we plan a Family Zoo Day with us, my Mom and Dad, and my brother and his family. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you'll know we are pretty big zoo geeks, so family and the zoo is a great day for us and one we can't wait to share with "the new cousins!"
Here we are with our older niece Samantha riding the Sky Trek which is basically a ski lift ride that takes us high in the air past many animals. It's a great view and we always do a self portrait mid air. Might there be two different faces with us next year!?

Mike and our youngest niece Maddy take a break. Who might be breaking with us next year?

Feeding the goats is one of Amy's favorite parts of the day and Gramma (Amy's Mom) always provides the quarters - THANKS! Maybe she'll be bringing quarters for two new grandchildren next year!

Gorillas are Mike's favorite animal. this picture was taken through the window to the outside exhibit and it was majestic to watch her move! Perhaps, Mike will be able to share this with two new little ones next year

06/02/09 - Where in the world is our dossier?

It's in Ethiopia awaiting pick up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 29, 2009 - 12:22 PM, Shipment information sent to FedEx

May 29, 2009 - 7:40 PM, Picked up, HERNDON, VA

May 29, 2009 - 9:32 PM, Left FedEx origin facility, HERNDON, VA

May 30, 2009 - 12:36 AM, Arrived at FedEx location, MEMPHIS, TN

May 30, 2009 - 2:21 AM, Departed FedEx location, MEMPHIS, TN

May 30, 2009 - 5:39 AM, Departed FedEx location, MEMPHIS, TN

May 30, 2009 - 10:46 PM, Arrived at FedEx location, PARIS FRANCE

May 30, 2009 - 11:47 PM, Departed FedEx location, PARIS FRANCE

Jun 1, 2009 - 11:00 AM, Int'l shipment release, ADDIS ABABA ETHIOPIA

Jun 1, 2009 - 11:00 AM, In transit, ADDIS ABABA ETHIOPIA, Package available for clearance

Jun 1, 2009 - 4:35 PM, Delivered, BOLE SUB-CITY, ADDIS ABABA ETHIOPIA

06/02/09 - The Paperwork Process

Paper pregnancy, a term I (Amy) greatly dislike, is used to describe the months spent gathering paperwork in the adoption process. Many people have wondered what all we needed to do and asked why it took so long. So here's a not so brief overview of our paperwork requirements and process!!

Dossier (official name of our packet of paperwork) Requirements:

Power of Attorney form - this form gives staff in Ethiopia the power to act on our behalf, it was completed twice due to a change in staff personnel, which of course required two trips to the credit union to have it notarized (this means we have to sign the paper if front of a notary public who also signs and stamped the paper to verify that we are who we say we are!)

Application Letter - this is a paper we wrote to the Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs in Ethiopia telling about ourselves and requesting to adopt two children. It required a notary stamp and was rewritten by us two times not to mention the stress that went into wording every part of it just right!
Birth Certificates - ordered online and sent to us in the mail within one week. FYI - way more expensive to order Mike's from Wisconsin then mine from Illinois!

Marriage License - ordered online and sent to us in the mail within one week.

Mike's Employment Letter - written by Mike's supervisor and requiring a notary stamp, which thank goodness they had a notary public in the office!

Amy's Employment Letter - written by Amy's director and then rewritten to include a missing sentence. Then graciously taken by Amy's boss to a bank for notarization.

Financial Statement - form we completed that listed our salaries, assets, liabilities, and monthly living costs. It required notarization and we redid the form, making corrections, approximately four times.

Mike's Physical & Doctor's Letter - originally completed in September of 2008. Then when changes were made requiring it to be notarized, we sent the originals and new blank forms back to the doctor's office. Once they were rewritten, a dear friend visited the office to notarize them for us. Also, because Mike has undergone surgery, he needed a letter describing the surgery and stating it would not affect his ability to parent children.

Amy's Physical & Doctor's Letter - same as above! Amy also needed a letter stating the medication she takes to control her asthma and allergies as well as describing the two surgeries she has had.

Proof of Medical Insurance - Originally a copy of our insurance card and the page in our insurance benefits explaining that adopted children were covered was al
l that was needed. However when changes were made requiring this to be notarized, we filled out a "notarized copy of an original" form, recopied tour insurance card and benefits page, signed and had the notarized copy of an original paper notarized - got that?!!

Proof of Life Insurance - originally copies of our life insurance policy pages stating they were in effect and for how much. Same as above with the "notarized copy of an original" form issue!

Home Study - This is completed by our awesome social worker Faith at Lutheran Child and Family Services. It gives a summary of our lives and marriage, tells about our training and why we want to adopt from Ethiopia. It's about five pages long a
nd required us to fill out TONS of paperwork (this was the most stressful part for Amy) and meet together and individually with Faith. We originally began our home study in March 2007 and completed it in October of that year. Then we met with Faith in August 2008 to update the home study from domestic to international. The update was supposed to take about three weeks but due to continual changes in requirements and wording by the government, it ended up taking three months. This is where the big bucks were spent in the paperwork process!!

3 Letters of Reference - written by friends describing our character, marriage, and saying we would make good parents. At first these did not need to be notarized but after changes in policy, our wonderful friends took their letters to banks to have them notarized.

Mike's Police Report - filled a form out at the Grayslake Police Department, waited a few minutes to receive the completed paperwork which needed to be notarized.

Amy's Police Report - same as above except that Amy noticed the notary stamp was set to expire before our adoption would be complete - back to the Police Station to have them renotarized!

USCIS Approval - the I171-H form - This took forever it seemed! This form is the federal government giving us permission to pursue international adoption and approval is based on our home study submission. However, before this office even receives our home study, it has to be approved by our social worker's supervisor and our Family Coordinator at America World. This was pretty easy. Then the home study is sent to the state of Illinois DCFS Intercountry Coordinator for approval. This 4-6 week process took us 8 weeks. Then the home study was finally sent to USCIS for approval but it ended up needing to be corrected twice. So this 4-6 week process took us about 14 weeks - all in God's timing!! Our babies must not have been ready!!

Agency Recommendation - This is a paper signed by our Family Coordinator at America World, Nicole, recommending us in the adoption process. It required notarization and needed to be redone when we were assigned a new Family Coordinator.

Post-Placement Agreement - This is a paper from our home study agency Lutheran Child and Family Services stating that they agree to provide the necessary post placement (after we're home with our kids) home visits. It required notarization

Family Photo Pages - STRESSFUL! These are photo pages of our selves and it was amazingly stressful deciding what to include and how to lay the pages out. It was also redone once due to changes in picture requirements.

Passport Photos - two copies (four each all together) taken at Walgreens. Amy smiled because no one told her she was supposed to look serious!

Photocopy of Valid US Passport - we applied at the Grayslake Post Office and had to send our original birth certificates in the mail with the applications, just a little nerve racking after what we had paid for them! But not need to worry, they were returned quickly along wit our passports, a week and a day after applying for them!

Home Study Agency License and Nonprofit Letter - requested from our social worker Faith. We didn't notice we needed them until after we had everything else we were so focused on our dossier list

Home Study Agreement - This paper states that America World and Lutheran Child and Family Services agree to work together to aid in our adoption process.

Hague Training Certificate - We each need to take an 8 hour online adoption course. These certificates verify we completed the process successfully.


August 21, 2008 - Meet with our social worker Faith to begin process of updating our home study. This is supposed to take about 3 weeks but ends up taking 3 months

August - October 2008 - request and gather all necessary paperwork for our dossier.

November/December 2008 - updated home study complete and approved by both our adoption agencies.

December 2008 - Home study sent to state of Illinois for approval. Wait time is supposed to be 4-6 weeks but ends up being 9 weeks.

January 1, 2009 - Changes made to dossier requirements. We need to regather most of our paperwork.

February 2009 - Home study sent to federal government for approval. Wait time 4-6 weeks but due to needed corrections ends up being 13 weeks.

March 2009 - All dossier paperwork regathered.

May 2009 - Receive federal approval, certify two papers, request and gather last of requirements, FedEx it to our international agency, and on May 29, all our hard work is sent to Ethiopia!! By the way, May 29th is the day God had always planned for us to be "Date to Ethiopia!"