Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Little Argyle Sweater...

I'm drinking my piping hot cup of coffee this morning and still thinking about the tapas we had last night...Y.U.M. The owner is an Argentinian artist & chef. His artwork hangs around the restaurant and everything has a Spanish influence, hence the tapas menu.

So, our fingerprints have officially arrived in Clarksburg, WV to be reviewed & dissected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A lot of these details will end up just being posted in our "Timeline" section at the bottom right of the blog. The paperwork gets a bit monotonous and not that exciting to write about so we'll just be dumping it into the Timeline list.

Now for something fun to write about...
I had to buy SOMETHING and this is what I got. A "little-man sweater". Some of you may not be aware of this, but Kai is a fashion plate. Most of you are thinking "jeans, a tee & a chain wallet?" What most of you don't see are his work ensembles. The number of designer tags hanging in his closet trumps mine anyday. And he knows how to style a pretty good look too.

So in the midst of agency paperwork and realizing how long this process is going to be, I wanted to purchase one item just to hang in the closet to make things feel a bit more real. This is what I chose. It's kind of a mini-Kai look.

So, that little argyle sweater opened up the floodgates. Calls from both The Mother and my sister went like this..."Oh, we can buy stuff? GREAT!" Within a week, I had to clear out the closet in the office and buy two shelving units for the floor area of the closet for the boxes of goodies we received. (I am certainly not complaining). This helps tremendously!

Another 'must-post' item is this bathrobe. A bathrobe! For an 18 month old! This is so crazy and so cute at the same time...

We tend to lean toward the minimal side of things, not liking a lot of "stuff". Based on what this closet currently looks like, I think the only thing we'll ever need to purchase are diapers, food & school. It looks like we're pretty set with the "stuff". THANK YOU!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The $$$

Today's word is afford.
Afford: to be able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect.
af⋅ford - [uh-fawrd, uh-fohrd] How does one afford international adoption?

This is not about Kai, me and our personal finances. This is about those out there considering all the ups & downs of international adoption, getting your head around it and embracing the process with open arms, knowing this is for you. However, at 3am you awake to the sobering question of "How will we ever afford this?"

While researching, it wasn't that easy for me to find out what the real numbers were without committing to an agency. I want to include as many helpful details in this blog which will hopefully assist others who find themselves in a similar situation.

The average cost for an Ethiopian adoption ranges from $17k - $22k plus travel costs. (one week of in country stay) Some people have asked me the cost and then make a funny face while asking, "You're doing something so generous, why do you have to pay so much?" The best answer I have is ... These agencies (the legitimate ones) are not looking for the right baby for your family. Their job is to find the right families for their babies.

Aside from a large portion of this amount going to the orphanage and caregivers in country (which is fabulous), there are many government agencies involved who are running a business and apply their applicable fees to the process.

The fees involved are spread out throughout the process and because the average timeframe can be as long as 12 months from beginning to end, it's a good idea to start saving now so you're able to pay cash for the expenses occuring down the road. A home re-fi is the most common method for families, followed by credit cards (not recommended in this economy). There are grants out there, but unless you're adopting a special needs child/ren I wouldn't waste my time applying. It's a very time consuming process. IMO your time would be better spent getting a jump on your application, home study and dossier paperwork. If you are Jewish, there are a couple of great organizations offering funding at a zero percent interest rate within their adoption loan programs.

Save your change. It will cover the little things that add up. $18 fee for FBI fingerprinting, $15/video for your Hague training (minimum of 4 are required), etc. (there are a lot of these expenses). Sell anything you haven't used or worn in a year at a stoop sale or garage sale. In this economy, everyone is looking for a bargain (and you'll have cleaner closets).

Another option, is to check with your HR department at work to see if your employer has any adoption programs. We are very fortunate that we both work for large corporations who participate in this program. Upon completion of our paperwork noting the adoption is offical and we return from Ethiopia, we will be receiving a contribution of over 1/2 of our initial out of pocket expenses. Lastly, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit for 2009 has increased to $12,150. Save EVERY receipt for every expense related to your adoption. It is not unlikely to be audited if you claim this credit.

I have the best husband. Because I'm working on getting a big chunk of paperwork out today, he offered to make us a nice lunch. I'm told my burrito with blue chips are ready, so I am off to join him & catch a portion of the Law & Order marathon.

Happy President's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Pair of Jacks

Wow, a lot has happened over the past week.

Since last Thursday's blog:
  • Fri - Sun: headed to PA to meet up with The Mother and assist in moving/packing/cleaning up at my grandfather's townhouse, now that he's moved into an assisted living apartment. (a sad milestone, but we're all so fortunate to have a 90 year old grandfather with 100% of his wits in tact)

  • Sun: off to NJ to spend the afternoon & dinner with my adorable little nephew (what 3 year old knows the difference between a square and an octagon??? and am I spelling it correctly? maybe I should ask Jack) Jack btw is named after our grandfather who I was visiting earlier.

  • Sun pm: back to the condo to catch the Grammys with the lovely Mr. Kai

  • Mon: finished a batch of custom onesies for a client & got them shipped; official copies of my birth certificate arrived...woohoo!

  • Tues: Michael-The-Traveling-Notary meets me at the doc & allows me to check off one big step on my list. YAY! I also got my first of two Hepatitis A vaccines for traveling (this makes it seem a little more official...yay again!) I'll get the second one in six months along with a tetanus shot.

  • Tues - Thurs: I have cooties. I've been on the couch since Tuesday evening and not liking it at all. The flu has struck. The worst part is the view of agency paperwork I can see from the couch that is just going to have to wait a day longer.

  • Thurs: I made it to the office this morning for a few hours. The official copies of our marriage certificate were waiting on my desk....another woohoo! AND THEN...later this afternoon, the UPS man handed me Kai's official copies of his birth certificate....yes, another bigger wooohooo!

This means the light at the end of Tunnel #1 is only a few days away. That day will be Wed., 1/18 when Michael-The-Traveling-Notary meets Kai at the doctor to put his official stamp on Kai's records.

There are many more steps to go, but I look at this one as the most significant as it feels like we've been in one long line at the DMV for the past three weeks. Future steps consist primarily of mailing in a doc, paying a fee & waiting.

Mood right now: very pleased

Thursday, February 5, 2009

There is No Me Without You

The ubiquitous book when doing any type of research on Ethiopian adoption. I finished it yesterday morning on the train and am left wanting more, more, more. I ran to Barnes & Noble at lunch today and picked up A History of Ethiopia (Harold G. Marcus) for my next read.

There is No Me Without You is the story of a woman slash borderline superhero named Haregewoin Teferra. She was a very happily married middle class woman who doted on her two daughters. Her life changed dramatically when tragedy hit her family - the core to everything she knew. After 18 months and still mourning, a local church asked her to take in a homeless teenage girl. She reluctantly accepted.

That was roughly 400 children ago. Today Mrs. Haregewoin provides two houses to about 40 orphaned children, half of them HIV positive.

An eye-opening read.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Trapper Keeper 101

Our dining room table has become our life size Trapper Keeper.

I won't bore everyone with the details but if you're reading this as a prospective adoptive parent, feel free to contact me when it's time to sort your paperwork. I have tips that will make your lives a whole lot easier.

We were introduced to our caseworker this past week (the agency rep handling all U.S. based paperwork) and she is FABULOUS! Her simple tip on how to sort the 100+ pages into four groups has already made our next step move smoother. It's so important to be on top of anything that IS in your control, because so much of this process isn't.

A great weekend was had by all - English soccer yesterday, paperwork organized, tried a new Cuban restaurant in the West Village last night and then Barcelona played today (go Messi!!!).
For anyone who is not aware, Kai has been blogging about soccer for awhile now. His niche is blogging about the world's game from the viewpoint of an American. He's got some great stuff going on...

next up: bloodwork @ 9am tomorrow to complete my medical file; Kai begins his medical workup on Tuesday