Thursday, January 31, 2008

Adios Dossier

We finally completed our dossier and it is on its way to our agency! While this doesn't really change anything about our process or getting a referral, it is such a relief to get that thing out of my house. With two little Tasmanian devils (formerly know as Chipmunk and Monkey) at my house that tend to destroy anything that gets in their way, I was anxious anytime they were within 10 feet of my beautiful pile of paperwork. I don't think I realized how worried I was about something happening to it until the other night. We were having a terrible storm with hurricane-strength wind that was sounded like it going to blow the house down. I woke up at 2:00 in the morning thinking that a tornado was approaching. I'm emabarassed to admit that my first thought was not to make sure my boys were safe and okay but to make sure that my dossier didn't get blown away. Yes, I realize how sad that is and I won't be nominating myself for any mother-of-the-year awards anytime soon. So I was thrilled to hand that baby over to Stu this morning and say goodbye to it. I have no idea what happens to it now; I'm just thrilled that it is out of my hands.
Of course, this also means that we are truly just waiting at this point which is so hard. We've been waiting for 7 weeks(yeah!), but I've been busy putting the dossier together so it has flown by. Now my work is finished and I think I'll be obsessing over the wait every single day. Thank goodness I have my two rays of sunshine (okay, three rays of sunshine if you include Stu) to keep me occupied!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Little About Kyrgyzstan

Since so many of you have been asking about our new country and the process I thought I would do a brief entry with some details.

The country:

Kyrgyzstan was born on the 31st of August, 1991 as a sovereign modern democratic state. Though young in years, it has a rich heritage and cultural continuity that dates back to many thousand years of antiquity and history.

Situated in the North-East of Central Asia it has a total area of 198.5 thousand square kilometres supporting a population of 4.7 million. Kyrgyzstan borders with Kazakhstan in the North, Uzbekistan in the West, Tadjikistan in the South West, and China in the South East.

Placed along the Silk Route on the historic crossroads of trade and cultural exchanges between China, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and the Arabian Sea, Kyrgyzstan is home for more than 8O minorities and ethnic communities. Kyrgyz, Russian, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Germans, Tatars, Kazaks, Uigur and Tadjik among others. As a multi-national state Kyrgyzstan has a rich variety of languages, literature, folklore, arts, crafts, customs and communities that lend color and variety to Kyrgyz culture.

The process:
The adoption process in Kyrgyzstan is very similar to Russia in some ways, very different in others. I'm still very new to this country so I know the basics but not many of the details. And if I screw any of this up I hope one of the other Kyrgyzstan families will help me out.
Kyrgyzstan has only been open to international adoption for a short time (relative to many other countries). I believe the first agencies started working there in early 2006. There are still very few agencies that work there; maybe 6-8 them. But it seems there are more agencies journeying to this country everyday.
So our first decision was to choose an agency. Each agency has advantages and disadvantages and since there is no centralized system, many of the agencies do things quite differently. After talking with all of the agencies and several families, we made the big decision. We sent in the contracts and were officially placed on "the list" for a referral as of mid-December. While we wait for a referral, I'm busy updating our old Russian dossier to meet the new requirements. Luckily for us, the Kyrgyzstan dossier is so much easier than our Russian one and we had most of the paperwork ready to go. Our homestudy agency has been busy filling out new paperwork for us and I think our new dossier should be ready to go by the end of this week.
Referrals for infant girls tend to take between 2-4 months; we've already got one month down - Woohoo!! Of course it could come sooner (although highly unlikely) or it could come later. There is no centralized database with available children so it is hard to estimate when we could anticipate a referral. They process the children as they enter the babyhomes, I think.
A big difference (for us) is that we will get pictures and basic information/medicals when we receive a referral. We've always traveled blind in our previous adoptions, meaning we got absolutely no information other than the referral met our requests (i.e. a boy under 18 months). Surprisingly we have always like this option. There was no picture to get attached to, no obsessing over incomplete medicals, etc. I think it is going to be so much harder for us this time, having our daughter's picture, knowing she is half way across the world waiting for us. However, I do believe seeing a picture of their little sister will help the boys understand why Stu and I are leaving on our first trip.
Anyway, once we receive a referral we will travel to meet her a couple of weeks later. This is where the big difference in agencies comes in. With most agencies the first trip is between 3-6 days. One agency actually offers a one-trip option (you don't go for a bonding period, just to pick-up); however that agency has closed its waiting list to even apply due to the explosion of interest. Our agency requires a 14-day bonding period during the first trip.
Many of you might be thinking we are crazy for actually choosing an agency that makes the first trip so long. We, however, are okay with this for several reasons. We had already anticipated a longer trip if we had completed our Astrakhan adoption (actually the second trip would have been over 3 weeks or we would have returned third time). What is more exciting is that we will have some good quality time in our daughter's home country. It is very important to us to soak up as much about Kyrgyzstan while we can because with three young children at home there is probably no way we will be able to come back and visit anytime in the foreseeable future. I think we'll visit with her for several hours each day so we should have lots of downtime to get out and explore a bit.
After our 14-day bonding period, we will come home and return in 4-6 weeks to pick up our daughter! The second trip is about a week and then we fly home.
So that's the new country in a nutshell. If anyone has any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. Everything is so new that I am learning new details everyday.
I do feel so fortunate to have found this program when we did. The interest in adopting from this country has exploded. So many new families have signed up for this country just since we applied. The wait times have already extended by several months and will continue to do so I believe. But we are 100% committed to Kyrgyzstan and know that our daughter is there.
And the wait continues.....

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Moving Right Along

Let me say again how much easier the Kyrgyzstan dossier is compared to our previous dossiers. We are almost finished with all of our documents; we just need to print out pictures of our family/house/etc. Now we are waiting on the necessary documents from the dreaded homestudy agency. We have had so many problems with our homestudy agency - losing papers, incorrect notarizations, never getting things finished on time. It is almost complete incompetence and it drives me crazy! We have contracted them to do the post-placement reports for the boys and they did the original homestudy so it doesn't make sense to search for a new agency to complete the updates/new paperwork. I'm really hoping that this one time they manage to do everything correctly and finish their part of our dossier ASAP. As soon as we get their documents, we can get everything certified and off to Kyrgyzstan it goes. Yeah! My only other concern is that we need to get a new I-171 issued showing the change of countries; we can't apply for that until they get the updated homestudy. I pray that the BCIS processes that much quicker than they process most of their paperwork. If we happen to get a referral sometime soon, we will have to wait to travel to meet her until we receive our updated 171. I can't imagine knowing that there is a little girl on the other side of the world waiting to meet us, and us having to wait for the slow wheels of the federal government to turn.
But I guess we'll cross that bridge if we come to it. Right now, everything is moving right along. Soon we'll be finished with paperwork (again!) and I'll be obsessing every time the phone rings!
*Edited to add: I am also thrilled that Astrakhan is moving again!! It looks like several families have received referrals/court dates. I am so excited that more Astrakhan children will be finding their forever families!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Year!

I wanted to wish everyone a happy New Year. I think 2008 is going to be a very special year for many of us.
Our holidays were wonderful. We visited with family and friends and didn't have to rush from one place to another. The boys had a fabulous Christmas and loved the presents that Santa left under the tree. Stu, of course, thought they would fight over the ride-on tractor they received; however Chipmunk was much more enthusiastic about the giant toy box full of dress-up costumes that Santa left. They've been changing costumes non-stop since Christmas and have only worn "normal" clothes when we leave the house and I insist. It's one thing for Chipmunk to wear one of his football jerseys with cowboy boots (that tends to be his usual wardrobe) to the grocery; it's quite another for both Spiderman and a bumblebee (Monkey's costume of choice) to go the pediatrician's office.
We celebrated New Years Eve at the home of friends, with all of our children running around and playing with each other. It was a madhouse but so much fun! Quite different than our New Years Eves' pre-children.
Now we are working at getting back on schedule and getting to bed on time, something that rarely happened over the past few weeks. And I'll admit that I think everyone was ready for the boys to go back to school yesterday.
As I said, I think that 2008 is going to be a great year for our family. Chipmunk and Monkey are both happy, healthy, and thriving. Stu is enjoying his job and I love having the opportunity to stay home with the boys. Of course, we would love to have an addition to our family this year - I'm thinking a cute little girl from Kyrgyzstan (wink, wink). But seriously, if everything in my life just continued as it did in 2007 than I would be one happy and lucky girl!