Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Wishes to All

Wow, I can't believe 2008 is drawing to a close. Hard to believe it was almost a year ago when we first set foot in the doors of the Catholic Charities office in downtown Baltimore and began our life-changing journey toward becoming a family.

This year has been a truly great year, if not a bit of a whirlwind, and I've learned so many things: Most important, I've learned that I really CAN be patient about certain things. So far, Jeff and I have handled "the wait" like real champs, if I do say so myself. And it's been incredibly touching, how many people have been asking us, again and again, how it's going. It's nice to know that so many of you are thinking of us, asking about us, and praying for us as we continue on this somewhat mysterious path toward parenthood. And with many of you, even the most minute of details don't seem to bore you, as I go on and on with my explanations and answers to your questions! I love talking about it and never tire of it!

Speaking of the "mysterious path" I mentioned earlier: One friend even compared it to the mystery of pregnancy: Although different in a lot of ways, adoption really is much like the uncertainty of pregnancy: wondering "when, exactly" it will happen...where will I be when nature (or, in our case, the universe, and the country of Korea!) decides it's time for us to be parents...what will it be like to hold my child for the very first feel those tiny little fingers curling around mine...will I, like so many other parents I've talked to, think to myself, "I can't believe they are letting us leave the hospital (or, in our case, the airport) considering we don't know what the &*&**&* we are doing!" Ha ha!

I have grown as a person, and I have definitely grown as a potential parent. All the books I've been reading and classes we've been taking have really gotten us on the road toward being prepared. That being said, I know that we won't know what hit us until it hits us! But bring it on. Bring it all on: No one can scare me with their warnings that "you will lose your freedom," "you will have no life and no time for hobbies/interests/yourself," "your life will change FOREVER," etc. Folks, I am SO ready for my life to change! And I'm so ready to not know what hit me. I want to feel what it feels like to have love in its purest, most innocent, most joyful form just whack me over the head. I can't wait to fall in love with our child and experience all the ups and downs, twists and turns that parenthood presents.

And on that note, Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate Christmas. Happy Hanukkah to all of my wonderful friends who celebrate Hanukkah. And I hope people aren't offended if I lump the rest of the December/January religious holidays into one big "Happy Holidays to All!" May 2009 bring you many warm and wonderful blessings.

And, on a more selfish note, may 2009 also bring Jeff and I our baby.

I probably won't post again until early 2009. Last-minute holiday stuff--you all know what I'm talking about, I suspect!

Huge hugs,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Hate Math

OK, I have to amend my last blog posting: As my dear friend Carol just pointed out to me, come Monday I will not be entering my fourth decade of life--but rather, I will be entering my fifth. My husband the scientist will not be surprised by this error one bit!

I have one thing to say. Hey, I'm a word girl: I hate math! Mainly b/c I can't do evidenced by my error in simple addition/subtraction.

Rather than getting further depressed by this news, I think I'll choose to still stay young at heart! No worries, didn't burst my bubble. Maybe deflated it a little bit, but no bursting.

God, I hate math. There it goes, screwing up my elegant prose and filling my blogs with factual errors!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Aloha--We're Back!

Hi, everyone! We are back from Hawaii--jet lagged and exhausted (it's only 8:00 a.m. Hawaii time, and I'm definitely still on that--despite us forcing ourselves to stay awake till 11:00 last night to get back on East Coast time). We had such a blast! Beyond a quick recap (see below), there's too much detail to go into on this blog. Maybe I'll include snippets of stuff here and there, in the months to come. But suffice to say: Flying on 9 different planes in just two weeks was well worth it!

Some highlights of our Hawaii adventure:

--swam with dolphins in Kona on The Big Island (I have pictures to prove it!)(I was on my own for that one; swam with a mother-daugher duo: Iwa [pronounced "Eva"], who is 37, and Pukanala, her daughter, who is 5. Their skin feels like the softest of worn leather that you can imagine. I was quite moved by the experience.
--did morning yoga outside in the mountains of Kauai
--toured the island of Kauai via helicopter (amazing views!)
--rode a high-powered, fast Zodiac boat up and down Kauai's NaPali coastline (picture 4,000-foot cliffs smack at the shoreline and that's NaPali)
--kayaked the Wailua River in Kauai and then hiked to a waterfall and swam in it
--stargazed at the summit of Mauna Loa (14,000 feet!)
--saw/hung out on a gazillion Hawaiian beaches, all of them beautiful beyond description or belief
--stayed in a "hale" (thatched hut, elevated like a treehouse!) on the Big Island, right near the beach
--did lots of hiking/walking
--took about 1,000 photos. Seriously. For once, I am not exercising what is known as "hyperbole" (which is my nickname to many), or "exaggeration for dramatic effect." I really, truly, honestly did take about 1,000 pictures. Yikes! I promise I won't share them all; only the really good ones!

We were at Bubba's Burgers on Kauai when we got the news that Obama won the election. We were so moved. Having purposely avoided the news all day long (it would have been too nerve-wracking to bear, plus we were on vacation, trying to relax!), we were anxious to check in. We walked in to cheering, and we soon discovered why. I asked the woman: Any news yet? She smiled and cried and told me that Obama had won. People in his home state are SO PROUD of him! They joke that to them, he is not just the first African American president, but the first Hawaiian president! Ha ha! We walked in at 6:00 Hawaii time (which is 11:00 EST), just after they announced Obama had won. There was a whole lot of hootin' and hollerin', cheering and laughing and crying (tears were streaming down my face as I experienced this hisoric moment for our country: in Obama's home state, nonetheless! The woman behind the counter and I exchanged tearful conversation and high-fives!). We were celebrating with complete strangers, over burgers and fries and shakes! It was quite a memorable experience. If this burger place served beer, I would've had one! Something amazing happened in America on that day: It will live on, for all of us, as one of those days where we'll all remember where we were and what we were doing when we got the news. Now I pray that Obama can lead us to the change we so desperately need--and so clearly want. Not just for us, but more important, for our children.

Speaking of children: The wait goes on. No news as of yet. We missed the Catholic Charities Adoption Celebration, which is held every November at a Korean church in Baltimore (in case you didn't know it, November is National Adoption Month!). Several hundred people showed up with their kids to celebrate adoption and the cultural traditions of the various countries that Catholic Charities works with. It's such a cool-sounding event: We'll go for sure, next year, hopefully with our very own child in tow!

So, what's next for us, you ask? After a whirlwind year, thankfully not much. Now that I have absolutely no annual leave left, Jeff and I will be hunkering down and enjoying the holidays with family--both here and in PA. And we'll be getting the baby's room ready, starting to move into that full swing. I have to clear it out and paint it. We already have some furniture in there. Starting now, I'll be saving most if not all of my annual leave for my maternity leave in 2009. If the "bad news" is that we are still waiting, then at least the "good news" is that I think I will have enough time to build my annual leave back up!

This holiday season, I'm going to be focusing much less on material things and more on being grateful for what I already have--amazing, loving family members (especially my husband) and good and true friends. What better gift than the one that all of you give to me every day, simply by being in my life?

I've recently secured a regular yoga class at the newly opened Olney Yoga on Sunday evenings (it's a gentle yoga class, if anyone's interested). So that makes three yoga classes I'm teaching a week, besides being on several sub lists for yoga studios in the area. It's a step in the right direction for me--I truly see yoga as a vocation, a calling--I love it that much! And I hope to someday be 100% true to that calling. But for now, it's still a side thing--and one that brings me so much happiness!

Oh, yeah: Did I mention that I turn 40 this coming Monday(Nov 24)? It kinda blows my mind but not necessarily in a bad way. Yes, definitely in a "where-the-hell-did-the-time-go" kinda way as well as a "I-need-to-stop-associating-'40'-with-'old'" kinda way, but not in a "counting my days" or "I-have-so-little-time left" kinda way. Birthdays are meant to be celebrated, and I'll be busy celebrating mine, for sure!

Contrary to what many people say when they reach a milestone age like 40, there is so very much to look forward to! Life is really, really good, and I am having fun. Through yoga, I have discovered that the present moment is a truly delightful place to be! I am blessed with good people in my life.

So on Monday, when I clock into the first day of my fourth decade on this earth, I know that I will be thinking much of what I am thinking right now: That there is so much to do, so many fun days and moments to look forward to! And that I am as young as I feel.

Considering I swam with dolphins just 2 days ago, I think I'm doing pretty darn good.

Huge hugs to all of you who make my life the joy that it is. And if you're reading this, YES, this means YOU!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Child Care Class Was Great!

Hi, everyone! Lots has been going on. That child care class was really great...again, it was so good to not have to endure sitting in a class with women who are pregnant. It's still tough being around pregnant folks. So this class was a welcome relief, and it addressed not only general baby-care stuff, but also adoption-specific stuff. They had weighted, biracial babies to pass around, and we did hands-on diapering, among other things. She started to explain to us how to do it, and I raised my hand and said, "Wait a minute. Back up. How do you tell the front from the back?" She laughed and said, "Good point, for you new parents out there. The tabs go back to front." I didn't even know THAT!!! That'll change quickly, and I'll soon be Quick Draw McGraw when it comes to changing poopy diapers. But for now, I have the big old "C" on my forehead for CLUELESS!

The adoption-specific stuff we learned was interesting and extremely relevant: For example, did you know that most Korean babies sleep on the floor and don't even know what a crib IS? It's not like they are mistreated or anything...they are clean and warm, just on the floor...for some Korean foster moms, it's just the way they do things. Often, the foster mom will sleep right there beside them! So when you go to put them in the crib for the first time, they may be like, "What the hell is THIS? I'm in a CAGE!" and may put up a fit. So for the first week, couples adopting from Korea are advised to put their child in their crib to sleep/nap but to then lie on the floor beside them until they are asleep, to let them know that we are there and that they are safe. CC says that it usually only takes a few days for the baby to get used to the crib and to see it as their place to rest and sleep, a safe place, and after that first couple of days, Mommy or Daddy doesn't need to be in the room with them. I never thought a sleeping bag would be a desired addition to the decor of Baby Halverson's room! At least, temporarily.

The class was run by our caseworker, Margie, and a woman from Silver Spring, MD, who is a nurse at the V.A. in DC as well as a mother of 4 (3 of whom are adopted). She actually referred us to a pediatrician's office in Olney, Dr. Miller (she takes her kids there!), so we plan on contacting that office once we get the referral, so that Dr. Miller can review our child's records and photo(s) to make sure that he/she is indeed healthy as stated on the forms. We've also gotten some names of other doctors' offices from several friends who live in Olney. As usual, word of mouth is the best thing for something like this!

I also have my name on three day care lists thus far. (In this area, the sooner you get on a list, the better!) And there are several others that I plan to check out.

That's it, for now. Stay tuned for my next post (which will happen as soon as I find the time to write it) about the latest update on our "wait" (which is already very quickly becoming a new "four-letter word"!).

And thanks for continuing to check in. Your visits make me keep blogging, just when I think no one really reads this thing. It means a lot to me, to know that you care enough to make time to do this.

We leave for Hawaii in just FOUR DAYS! WHOO-HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Hugs to all!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Child Care Class on Sunday

Hi, everyone. Not much news here. We are attending an Infant and Toddler Care class at Catholic Charities this Sunday from 9 to 1. Several of our new friends who we've met through Catholic Charities are going. It should be fun. Gulp. Reality is setting in already!

Then, after that, at 3:00, one of my new friends, Sara (they just picked up their second child, Amanda, from Dulles Airport about two weeks ago!), is having a playdate at her house in Olney--and she has invited Jeff and me, as well as the other couple who lives in Olney (Mary Clare and Marty just got their referral--their daughter Cara will be coming to them in a couple of months!!!).

This is a rare opportunity for Jeff and I to socialize with about eight different families, all of whom have their kids at home and some of whom are waiting for Kid #2. All of them are members of my friend Sara's adoption cohort, and they do a once-monthly playdate. Most of them have--yup, you guessed it--little boys adopted from Korea! The playdates are in various towns nearby from month to month. So, Sunday will be devoted to all things adoption! I'm so excited!

Besides that, we'll be spending the next week or so getting ready for our big trip to Hawaii. I'm getting so excited, but I have so much to do between now and then! We have never, ever traveled on vacation for two weeks, and now I'm kinda seeing why. There's a lot of stuff to do (making sure the house is taken care of, the dog is kenneled, the mail is being handled, the bills continue to get paid, and then there's work--I'm actually intentionally ahead at work and hope to keep it that way! But working like a fiend in order to accomplish that!). We are aiming for the goal of "no laptops" on this trip, so we can truly relax! If we need to access the Internet, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so, I have a feeling!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Example of CC's "Monthly Korean Update"

So, here's an example of the "update" we get every month from Catholic Charities. This is the most recent one we received: the October 2008 monthly update. As you can see, it's kept intentionally vague, but does help to keep us informed and to know that even though we don't feel like much is happening, there really is quite a lot happening--and we are just waiting for our turn! Read below if you are interested.

Monthly Korean Adopters Update

October 2008

This is the seventh in a series of periodic updates that we will send you regarding the status of adoptions from Korea.

Referrals: We received the assignment of two healthy infants this month (one boy and one girl).

We currently have 19 families waiting for the assignments of children. Sixteen are waiting for the assignment of a child of either gender (which means they will most likely be matched with a boy), and three families are waiting for the assignment of a girl. Families waiting for the assignment of a girl have typically waited 15 months for a match. Families waiting for the assignment of a boy have typically waited 11 months for a match.

Travel/Arrivals: Two families traveled to Korea in September to pick up their children. Holt has temporarily relocated their office as their neighborhood is undergoing government mandated upgrades! They will be able to move back to their neighborhood -- -- but to a newly built and designed building -- in about two years. This gentrification means that their Guest House must now be partially used for office space, and consequently the availability of the Guest House has been limited for our families. This is a loss for our parents, not only financially (because the Guest House costs are about 1/3 that of the local hotels) but also because it limits their opportunities to interact with other adoptive families.

Holt still provides van service for families from the airport to the hotel of their choice, and from the Holt office to the airport on the day of their departure from Korea. Several of our families have taken the opportunity to travel to their children’s cities of birth, and Holt has provided interpreters when they visit the hospital or clinic where their child was born.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grandparents' Night: A Smashing Success

Well, last night was the much-anticipated annual Grandparents' Night at Catholic Charities. Their tiny room was packed full of parents-to-be and THEIR parents! My folks drove down from Scranton, PA, and Jeff's folks drove up from Manassas, VA. It was fun...they really educated our parents about adoption--the process, how being a grandparent of an adopted child is different from being the grandparent of a birth child, what to expect, how to help when the child is finally at home with Mom and Dad, etc. One of the most important things that Catholic Charities educated our parents on is "airport etiquette." When the child arrives, or when the parents arrive with their child at the airport, the first thing that every grandparent wants to do is to hold the baby. Margie, our caseworker, explained to them that this is a HUGE NO-NO. The reason makes perfect sense: Already, this kid has been passed from the arms of a nurse/doctor to the arms of a foster mother to (perhaps) the arms of an escort (if the child is being escorted to the U.S.) and finally to the loving arms of Mom and Dad. But if there's a lot of passing of the child at the airport (and when we arrive home), the child is STILL not going to know who Mom and Dad are. Not a very good thing for Mom and Dad, or for baby, for that matter! Margie asked, "So how ELSE can you help?" People started shouting out very good answers: Do the laundry. Make phone calls. Send emails announcing the good news. Walk the dog. Clean the house. Make dinner." (Heck, all of these sound GREAT to me! Bring it on!)

Our parents were able to meet and socialize with Margie, our caseworker, which was something that was so important to us. We converse so regularly with her (mainly over email and at parents-in-progress meetings) that it was important that our parents get to know her, too. All four of our parents participated actively, raising their hands and answering questions, and asking Margie some excellent questions as well. As we left, all four of our parents were raving about what a great time they had and what an excellent session it was. They said it was so informative, and in my Dad's words, "I learned so much about adoption tonight! More than I ever thought I would learn."

I took photos of us out to dinner before we left, and then took a photo of all of us sitting there at Catholic Charities, waiting for the evening to begin. These are some of the first photos that will be in our child's "lifebook"!

Have I explained the lifebook yet? A "lifebook" is an adoption thing; it's a scrapbook/memory book that traces our child's life journey, from as early as we can possibly manage, so that as our child grows, we can share with them the story of our journey to her or him and the important milestones along the way. We may not have photos of their birth, but we do have a lot of other meaningful things we can include. A lifebook can include everything from photos (including that magic "first photo" we'll get with the referral!) to airline tickets to cards/letters to pictures of Korea. It basically shows the child that he or she has an important and unique identity and their very own story to share with the world! It also shows them that adoption does not make them "different" or "less than" their peers: It simply shows them that they are as special as any other little boy or girl, and here's how.

All right. Back to work. Just wanted to share how things went last night. It meant so much to have my parents there (they drove 4 hours yesterday and then turned around and drove 4 hours back home today when I left for work!). Plus, the six of us don't get to spend time together very much, so everyone enjoyed the time we were able to spend together.

Talk to everyone soon! Have a great week. Probably no more posts this week.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Good News From Good Friends

Whoa, Nellie: This is not OUR good news, but ANY good news is worth sharing!

The exciting thing about discovering this whole new world of adoption is the friends that you meet along the way. We have met several families in Olney who are working with Catholic Charities and who are also waiting for their child (some first, some second). Just last week, two women I have become friends with got some exciting news: One friend received a referral for a healthy baby girl (she and her husband have been waiting since sometime in 2007, I believe--it takes longer if you wait for girls from Korea). The photo is so cute; she's all wrapped up snuggly tight in her warm-looking onesie, complete with footies, and she has these cute chubby cheeks!

And then the very next day, another friend (who I only know via email thus far) who also lives in Olney (the three of us chat from time to time) got the call on Friday that their daughter Amanda, who they have been waiting for during the past few months (I saw photos of her...she is ADORABLE!), would be at Dulles this Tuesday. They basically got four days' notice. Yikes! This is their second child. They already have a son, Matthew, also from Korea.

Being a first-time adopter, this experience of hearing such positive news from my friends gave me such hope and an incredible amount of reassurance that the wait really is worth it, and that it really does HAPPEN! (Sometimes you start to doubt if it ever will.)

I think I'll start clearing out that room. Maybe this parenting thing is going to happen sooner than I think! Or so I hope!

Now onto other things non-adoption-related: This past weekend, I took my first kayaking lesson. We went on the reservoir near my house. It was awesome...very zen-like. I loved it! We saw a blue heron take off squawking right in front of us. Saw fish jumping right up out of the water. It was so tranquil and peaceful and still, and the water was like glass. Absolutely gorgeous day, one that makes you thankful for all things beautiful in this world of ours.

I also took a 2-hour yoga training session (good to brush up!) and my weekly drumming lesson from my dear husband. He is so patient with us beginners! Hmmm...I'm taking all of these "lessons" and am being such a "student" these days! What is THAT about?

At the end of October, we signed up for a Baby Care class--can I tell ya how thankful I am that I don't have sit in a room full of big-bellied women? It's awesome that Catholic Charities thinks to offer such classes to those of us who are psychologically, but not physically, "pregnant"!

Grandparents' night is tomorrow evening! I'll blog about it later this week. I'm sure it'll be quite interesting! All six of us are caravaning up there in two cars.

I'll end with a quote from my dad: "Soooo, this grandparents' night thing...we're not being, like, screened, are we? I mean, they're not gonna put us on the spot or anything, right?" (insert wrinkly face) I just laughed and said, "No, Dad!"

It's funny, how people think.

Friday, September 26, 2008

We're Still...Just...Waiting

Hi, everyone! At our monthly "free bagels" breakfast for work, my friend Gazala yelled at me for not updating my blog since July 21. So I am giving into the guilt. Here goes.

We're still just "waiting." It's not really that bad, all the waiting. We are both so busy with stuff. I know that the stuff will go away or change when the baby comes (if one more person tells me that, I swear I'm going to scream! So stop telling me that, kids!). But for now, it's a godsend to be this busy! I am teaching two yoga classes: one at work (that has become quite popular!) and one near my home. I am so enjoying my calling as a yoga teacher. I wish I could do it full time but it wouldn't pay the bills! I also started taking drumming lessons from my dear husband. He has students come on Sunday nights at 7:00, and I'm usually there, so I figured, What the hell? it's been fun, learning the three main hand movements (bass, tone, and slap) of West African drumming! We even put them all together for a little "rhythm" last week! We sounded pretty good! And next weekend, I am FINALLY taking my very first kayaking lesson with a friend of a friend. We are going out on the reservoir, the three of us. I cannot even tell you how excited I am to learn how to kayak! It seems so peaceful and such a great way to see nature--specifically, birds, which I am really into.

Oh, and Jeff and I are traveling for TWO FULL WEEKS to Hawaii to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary, my big 4-0 (gulp: enter another decade), and his 42nd. We are traveling to Kauai for a week (my pick, for all the ecotourism and hiking opps) and The Big Island for the second week (his pick, for all the geographic diversity, hiking, and star-gazing opportunities). We will be away Nov 2-16. We are SO EXCITED!

I am currently starting to poke around looking into child care and pediatricians who can review our child's medical file and photo, quickly, once we get the referral, to verify that the child is healthy as stated. We have to find 2 doctors who are willing to be kind of "on call" for that phone call! I know so many people in the area with kids and so many people who have adopted; they are proving to be such a valuable resource!

I think we'll start clearing the room and painting soon. I was going to wait, being kind of superstitious about starting anything like that before we have a specific child matched with us. However, my friend Meg put the fear of God in me today: She said that for their second, Liam, it took only four months from the initial meeting to pickup of their child! Yikes! (If that was us, we would have picked up our child in JUNE, to give you an idea of how short that time was!) She said she had no time to prepare b/c she thought they were settling in for another long wait. Surprise, Surprise!

We do get a monthly email from Catholic Charities, telling us the "monthly Korean update." They never tell us where we are on the list, in terms of number. But they have been getting 1-2 referrals for healthy infants every month (not very many, I know!), and I know that we are among 14 families waiting. I would guess that we are somewhere in the middle of that list. Doing the math, and assuming the worst--that we are fourteenth--Jeff and I are putting us getting a referral at around March or April (basically, sometime in spring 2009). But if we are in the middle of the list, it could be before that. CC refuses to specify. Ugh!

Refreshing your memory: After we accept the referral, we know that we travel 2-4 months later (or so we are told...I don't think this estimate ever changes b/c it's finally something that CC has some control over!). I keep saying that maybe we'll get a Christmas present in the form of a referral! How cool would THAT be?!? I'm putting my energy toward that, these days.

I also just discovered two more families in Olney with kids they adopted from Korea. One family is in our neighborhood, right down the street, but their kids are older: 9-year-old boy and another child they are waiting for a call about. But the other family has a 1.5-year-old, Matthew, and is awaiting Amanda's arrival (infant). They invited me to their adoption cohort monthly playgroup, and I think we may just attend. They said we can meet lots of families with adopted kids from Korea, all very recently adopted, and we can join the group if we'd like! They sound so nice and welcoming!

We went to our monthly parents in progress meeting in September, and we heard from the featured speaker, a pediatrician who specializes in international adoption. His talk was EXCELLENT, and he painted a very, um, realistic picture. (I quote: "The plan ride coming back WILL be hell.") But he has something like 30 years of experience treating adopted kids, and he's so good at what he does and is very well-connected. So, we have him as a resource.

Next month's meeting is "grandparent's night," where all of our parents are invited to come and participate. Parents come from all over the place, and those who come the farthest get a prize. My parents are both coming from PA (four-hour drive for a Tuesday night meeting! God bless mom and dad!), and Jeff's parents are coming, as well (they live in Manassas). Should be fun. Allows CC to brief our folks about what to expect, how the process works, the similarities and differences between having birth grandchildren and adopted grandchildren, and to answer any questions our parents have about the process.

Well, enough said. I just wanted to touch base and say hi b/c it's been so long since I've written anything.

Love and peace to all,

Monday, July 21, 2008

No News...Just Saying Hi

I miss my blogging, now that things have kind of calmed down and we've settled in for the long (or maybe, hopefully, not-so-long) wait! So I thought I'd just post a message to let you all know I'm still here. We're just hangin' out, waiting for our kid. Nothing new at all to report...believe me, you'll be the first to know!

We've been doing a lot of visiting with family lately...the loss of Jasmine is still very painful and present, but we are finding joy and comfort in the times we spend with our loved ones. Latest thing: Steve, Kyla, and Ava came to visit us this weekend, and we had such fun! Ava is a piece of work: talking up a storm now, and she LOVED Jupiter. No fear at all. Just wanted to hug him and "fluff the puppy" all weekend long. She kept calling him Puppy. It was so cute!

We have a bunch of road trips coming up: a family reunion this weekend in PA, then Ava's birthday party in NJ, and a fun long weekend visiting one of my oldest and dearest friends in NC.

This fall we'll be married 10 years (AND I turn 40! What a fall it will be!), and we've decided to take a long, much-overdue getaway vacation. Probably to the Caribbean or Mexico. Preferably all-inclusive. I want to be pampered, baby! I'm doing the research now (we'll be traveling in early November), and I'm just completely overwhelmed and stumped as to where we should go. We went to St. Lucia for our honeymoon; been to Puerto Rico already. I kind of don't want to go somewhere we've already been. So far, several resorts in Mexico (Ixtapa/Ziehuatenaho region), Barbados, Turks & Caicos, Bermuda, and Jamaica seem awfully appealing. Any suggestions? I'm such a terrible decision maker, and the more options, the longer it takes me to decide. Jeff would like some mountains, as well as beach (which is why St. Lucia would be good, but we've already been there). If you have a recommendation, please post a reply here. I'd love to get a good word-of-mouth recommendation. Those are the best kind!

Talk to everyone soon! Hope your summer has been fun so far...ours has.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yay! It worked!

I feel so smart and stuff.

Here are some more random photos. Anna with the pumpkins (she'll be 2 in October), Anna in her 2007 Halloween costume, and Jessica and Ava, hugging. We're going to PA to see them this weekend...cannot WAIT!

This Is Only a Test

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test.

Seriously, folks, I'm testing my ability to post photos on my blog, something I've been wanting to do for a while now but haven't gotten around to learning how. So bear with me. I couldn't find any photos of Jasmine that I can post, but there are some cute ones of Jupiter and my nieces. So stand by, as I test my technological capabilities as a 21st-Century Blogger Extraordinnaire!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rest in Peace, Jasmine

OK I can't write a lot about this, because I will completely lose it.

On Tuesday, July 1, our sweet little beagle Jasmine passed peacefully, with the help of our amazing vet and friend, Dr. K. She made a housecall (after working all day!) to assist Jasmine with her peaceful entry to Heaven. We spent the entire day with Jasmine, saying good-bye, taking lots of pictures, and hanging out as a family. Before Dr. K got there, Jeff and I had several glasses of wine and toasted our girl.

She drew her last breath at about 10:30 p.m., nestled in between my legs on the deck. She had the most perfect last day--warm breezes blowing, sun shining, no rain in sight. She spent most of it on the deck with us. She was very, very sick at the end there, and ultimately we had to choose her time for her. We know it was the right decision, but still not an easy one to face. We had hoped she'd choose it for us, but alas things didn't work out that way. I can still feel her spirit in our home (I really can!), although her physical presence is no longer with us. It was a blessing having her as our family member since 2001, and we miss her so much. I have been crying for days now. Just keep us in your thoughts.

I know this is not directly related to the adoption, but I figured I'd post a tribute to her here anyway. She was a damn good dog, in every way possible, and although I can't imagine life without her, we are managing, just trying to take things day by day, moment by moment--you know, the ways dogs do. (Jupiter is helping! He's such a happy little dog and doesn't even seem to miss her--of course, she always snapped and growled at him anyway!) She taught us so many lessons about how to live (in the present moment) and how to be (happy and content with what is, all the time), and she always made us smile. I just wish our child will have gotten to know Jasmine--but he or she will have tons of pictures and photo albums to look at, and we'll make sure that he or she learns her name and her legacy.

Thanks for allowing me this indulgence and slight diversion from the main focus of this blog! No more news about the adoption. Just sitting tight and WAITING!!! There is certainly a lot of joy to look forward to--even in my grief and despair, I can see that.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Approved by USCIS!!!

It's nice that some things don't take nearly as long as you think they will. I thought for sure we'd be waiting weeks for our approval letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS)--after all, our home study was just mailed to them last Friday!

But today (Saturday) we got the magic "letter of approval" that allows us to proceed with the adoption of a child from Korea. It's called the I-797C, Notice of Action, and it's titled (are you ready for THIS mouthful?) NOTICE OF FAVORABLE DISPOSITION CONCERNING APPLICATION FOR ADVANCE PROCESSING OF ORPHAN PETITION. And the "approval" box is checked! Yay!

Of course I found a typo (see if you can find it too): "Your approved advance processing application is being retained or has been forwarded as indicted by an "X" below..."

Funny, I never knew you could "indict" an "X"--I'm certain they meant "indicated," but that's a whole other discussion.

Oh, and they apparently think we live on Thornberry "Land" vs. "Lane" (I asked Margie if that matters...I really, really hope it doesn't!).

We also got in the mail our certificate from Catholic Charities that reads as follows: "Catholic Charities Center for Family Services ADOPTIVE HOME CERTIFICATION--This is to certify that the home of Jeffrey & Kathleen Halverson has been certified as an Adoptive home for the care of children who are under the supervision of Catholic Charities' Center for Family Services." Whoo-hoo! We're official in every sense of the word!

Routine, bureaucratic paperwork typically bores me to death, but we are pretty darn excited about these two integral pieces of paper, both of which are critical steps on our journey to get matched with our child and to travel to Korea to bring him/her home.

So now, there really IS nothing left to wait for except our referral (when we get matched with our child), which probably won't happen until, at the earliest, the end of 2008, early 2009. Once we accept the referral (after running the baby's file by two international adoption pediatricians), we travel to Korea typically 2-4 months later. So travel will likely be anytime between spring and fall of 2009.

All in all, a pretty good weekend, wouldn't you say?

Keep the prayers and positive thoughts coming our way!


Monday, June 23, 2008

And the Wait Begins

I know it sounds weird, but I'm so excited that our "wait" has finally officially begun and we don't need to do anything else except to sit tight and WAIT. Keep us in your prayers/thoughts that our wait will be as brief as possible!

In the meantime, we continue to occupy ourselves with our usual slew of activities. I honestly don't know where the weeks go!

I subbed for a Gentle Yoga class at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring, MD, last week, and while I was there, the director was talking with me about a possible regular teaching opportunity (every new yoga teacher's dream: to teach at a "real" yoga studio!) come fall. So, in the context of that conversation, I explained that I had to think very carefully about taking this on, and I mentioned the adoption.

Well, the world continues to shrink, folks. It turns out that Elisa and her husband are the parents of two beautiful boys (8 and 10) from Guatemala! She took me into her office and proudly showed me the most amazing photos of these little guys. Smiling, holding hands on what was clearly someone's first day of school. They looked so happy and relaxed! It made me think about what our little one will hopefully look like in photos, once he/she arrives.

And I couldn't help but wonder if it gave me an "in" that I wouldn't have had, as far as this teaching opportunity goes! Ha ha!

Have a wonderful week! I probably won't write again this week, as there really is nothing new going on.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Slight Change (But All Is Still Good)

Well, today I got an email in which Margie amended her original estimate of the mail date to Korea. They are actually mailing the home study to Korea and to CIS on the same day: this coming Friday (June 20). I'm not terribly surprised, nor am I worried/upset about it. It's all still good stuff--our home study should arrive in Korea next week, as opposed to this week. (I suppose this is just a sampling of the typical "delays" that an adoptive family experiences!) She said that this will have very little impact (if at all) on our wait, that a few days is no big deal but she always wants to keep us up-to-the-minute informed.

We went to our neighbor's house this weekend for a barbecue on Father's Day. They have four adopted children (two boys, two girls; two in college, two in high school/middle school) from Korea. They pulled out the scrapbooks, and we saw some of their photos. So exciting. We saw photos of their youngest, Caitlin (sp?), when she was new to their family. They also showed us their "Homeland Tour" photos, where John (the dad) and two of the kids (Karen and David) traveled back to Korea, when the kids were about 12 and 10, and they were able to meet up with their foster moms who had cared for them very early in their lives! We've been told that things like this are very important for adopted kids--gives them a sense of closure, completeness, filling in of the "gaps" that may exist in their young lives. It's also, as you can imagine, VERY emotional for both the child (who may or may not remember her but still feels a connection) and the foster mom (who remembers well). Doing things like this definitely makes it feel more real for us. They were giving us all kinds of helpful advice and tips.

We feel so supported on this journey, and we're so thankful for that!

Hugs to you all, and talk soon.

Friday, June 13, 2008


It's official. Here's the exact wording from Margie's email to me about an hour ago:

"It was so good to visit with you yesterday and see your lovely home. I have good news for you: I finished your home study last night, had Ellen sign today before she leaves the country, and it's being notarized right now! It will go to Korea Monday and to CIS [Customs and Immigration Services, formerly INS] next Friday."

I'm leaving the office now, but I wanted to convey the good news! What a great way to start a weekend!

Think I'll have a beer tonight. Maybe several.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

What to Expect When We Travel

Another shocker we learned was that we will NOT be traveling to Seoul as part of a group of parents, as we've thought all along. We will be traveling alone--a direct flight from Dulles, VA, to Seoul, Korea, with a van from Holt (our int'l adoption agency) waiting for us. We'll have a translator who travels with us, though (a Mrs. Lee). So that's comforting to know. From what I understand, Seoul is a big, modern city, so traveling to Korea to pick up our child is not like traveling to, say, Ethiopia.

The typical routine is to fly out on a Saturday and back on a Thursday. Here's the rough schedule as she told it to us:

Sat: Depart Dulles for 13-hour (I think) direct flight.
Sun: Arrive in Seoul.
Mon: Meet our child for the first time (but we do not take custody of him at that time). Back to our hotel, just the two of us, that evening.
Tues: Sightseeing in and around Seoul (guided tour of some type--translation: "pleasant distraction" while paperwork gets worked out). We will also have the opportunity to visit the home for disabled orphans in a neighboring city, which is where our sponsorship money goes (this money is rolled into our fees that we pay during the process). We can also request to visit the city/town of our child's birth (if known, and if we arrange it with Holt ahead of time).
Wed: We prepare for our flight home the next day. It's typically an early flight, so we'll get custody of our child Wed evening and spend our first night alone with him! Yikes!
Thurs: Get up bright and early (something like 3 a.m.), head for the airport, kid in tow. Back to Dulles.
Fri: Arrive in Dulles (jet lagged, probably exhausted, but happy). Promptly collapse (oh, whoops! We can't do that anymore! We are parents now!).

Just thought you might be interested...we apparently have travel meetings several times while we are waiting. They bring in families who just got back; we meet their kids and hear directly from them about their experience in Korea. Sounds cool, huh?!

OK, three wordy posts are enough for one day!

Talk soon,

Airing My Pissiness

OK, now that I gave you the good news, it's time for a less-than-blissful gripe session. Hang onto your hats, kids. I hope you're prepared to be the ears and shoulders you said you'd be for us during this process, b/c I need you right now!

Can I tell you how much I didn't like having a person who is still almost a complete stranger coming to our home, assessing its cleanliness, advising us on how to parent, suggesting how to set up our home so it's "safe" for children, and actually suggesting that we should plan on decorating our home with some Korean art/cultural items (not that I'm averse to that: I like Korean art and culture. What I don't like is being told that's what I "should" do)? Never been particularly good with authority, and this is certainly no exception.

Sorry for these several long posts, but I have a lot to say. After weeks of very infrequent posting, I know!

As happy as I am that we are moving forward, this whole experience this morning really got under my skin and rubbed me the wrong way.

We had taken this parenting assessment at our initial meeting with Margie back in March, and so one of the things we did today was to go over whatever questions Jeff or I answered that were not the "preferred answers." There weren't that many, thank goodness. Then we discussed any questions where it appeared that he and I disagreed markedly. She said it wasn't a pass/fail kind of thing, just an opportunity to discuss issues that need to be talked about beforehand, to get on the same page with one another and with our agency about parenting.

It reminded me of when Jeff and I were engaged, and we were looking around for Pre-Cana classes to take here in MD. The one church that offered the classes told us that a "compatibility test" was part of the Pre-Cana Program. I'm sorry, but we wouldn't be engaged if we didn't think we were compatible! That pretty much sealed the deal for me. We went elsewhere. Ended up using my hometown church's Pre-Cana Program, in good old PA--and it didn't require a compatibility test.

This time, we don't exactly have a choice in the matter.

Ooh, it just irks me.

I usually like to stay positive and focus only on the "good energy" of anything that is going on in life, but today I'm finding it extremely difficult to do that.

Talk soon--look for my next post on what I learned about our travel to Korea.


Our File Will Be In Korea NEXT WEEK!

Well, today's home visit went very well. I am tired from all the worrying and cleaning, but happy that things went well. Mara, our in-person reference, came all the way to MD (about 1 hr drive) from Vienna, VA, to meet with Margie (our caseworker) for 10 minutes! Now if that ain't true friendship, I'm not sure what is. A very public thank-you and HUGE HUG to Mara for her willingness to help us and give up so much of her morning.

Margie got there at 8:30 on the dot and left at 11:30. We didn't need to clean nearly as manically as we did...but oh well. Now we have a nice, clean house. We did get told that we need to fence in the backyard completely (it's only three-quarters fenced). We were planning on doing this soon anyway, so now we'll just make sure it happens in the next couple of months. What the hell? It's only a couple of thousand bucks, right?

She said that she was going to sign off on/approve our home study today and submit it to her supervisor tomorrow, for complete signoff. Then, it gets shipped to Korea. She said that our file should be in Korea BY NEXT WEEK! Translated: We're about 7 days away from being officially on the Korea waiting list! You couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces when we heard that. For some reason, I didn't think it would happen so soon after the home visit.

I asked her about timelines, explaining that tons of people keep on asking us the magic four-letter word of "when"? She said that my estimate of Fall 2009 was fairly accurate, if not a little bit sooner. She said "I would hope that you'll be traveling to Korea before Fall of 2009, but with the way things are going, the waits are getting longer, so we'll just have to see what happens."

Translated: Sit tight and wait. Famous last words in the world of adopting a child.

I asked her if we would get routinely updated on where we are on Catholic Charities' "list of waiting parents for Korea." (For example, would we be told, "You are now Number 12 of 20 families waiting" or something like that?) She said she does not disclose this information, b/c it's very misleading and doesn't tell you much. It's not like we're on a chronological list...when a referral comes in, they certainly look at the next family on the list; however, if the child has a medical condition that the family has indicated they wouldn't accept, then Catholic Charities moves to the next family. And so on down the line till they find a match. So lots of times, it just depends on the agency making the best match possible based on (a) the child's characteristics/medical issues/age and (b) the family's criteria (what they will and will not accept in a child).

So, stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for checking in.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Home Visit Next Week!!!!!!

Yay! Just a quick note to tell you all that our home visit is scheduled for next Thursday morning! June 12. Wish us luck. I'm sure all will go well. I'm really not that nervous about it. This happened a lot quicker than I had anticipated. Not that I'm's all good stuff. Means everyone's prayers and positive thoughts (including my own) have resulted in quicker action than expected! So, thanks!

Trying to get out the door to go teach yoga tonight. Gotta run...will write more soon!


Friday, May 30, 2008

Grateful for So Many Gifts

Nothing earth-shatteringly new here. Just wanted to check in and say hi.

So, what have I been doing to pass the time while our caseworker continues to work on our home study and I continue to avoid the temptation to pick up the phone or send a curious e-mail?

Let's see: I've been diligently reading about all things adoption, in between pausing for some fun reading ("Run" by Ann Patchett, at the moment). Even the fun reading has an adoption twist. Get this: It happens to be about a mixed-race family (two Caucasian parents with a son by birth and two African American brothers who they adopted)! I didn't know this when I started reading it. How weird is THAT, that it happened to be on my book club's reading list for this summer? Eegads, I'm getting goosebumps. It's a really good read so far, and it addresses some of the racial discrimination/stereotypes that mixed-race families (such as we will be) typically face. These were some of the very issues we discussed in our adoption class! Interesting to read how this family, however fictional they may be, handles and responds to callous comments/looks from strangers and friends alike (e.g., in the book, extended family members routinely refer to the adopted children as the "little boys" rather than just lumping everyone together into the category of "your sons"). Interesting.

I've been teaching a LOT of yoga these past few weeks. My regular Monday night class, as well as classes twice a week at work (for a one-month trial period only). Plus my regular weekly class where I, myself, am a student. All of this yoga is really helping me with this beginning of our "waiting game" to get our kid.

I had dinner with an old friend last night who I hadn't seen in about 10 years--we had lost touch and just recently reconnected! It was so meaningful to get together with her and reminisce, laugh, and catch up.

I spent a fun Memorial Day Weekend at my brother Steve's house in NJ with my entire family. I had such fun with my nieces, siblings, and parents. My brother and I were the last ones awake and got pretty darn toasted, let me tell ya.

All of these things that I just mentioned (among many others that I don't have space for!) have made me feel so wonderfully grateful for all of the gifts in my life. Those gifts show up as people (like you who may be reading this), physical and psychological growth (like yoga), and just plain old good times (like laughing with friends and getting drunk with my brother).

Life is pretty good. And when we get this kid, it'll be that much better!

Rock on. And have a great weekend.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Show Me the Money

Just a quick note to let you all know that today, we officially secured all of the funds we will need for the adoption of our baby. Quite a heavy burden has been lifted off our shoulders, and we are so thankful that this worked out!

No news yet on the progress of our home study paperwork. As you may or may not recall, we turned it in 2 weeks ago today. Our caseworker is in the process of reading through it and writing her report, and it will probably be several more weeks before there are any new developments.

I'll keep you posted, no worries! Thanks for your continued thoughts/prayers/good wishes.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adoption Class #2 Complete!

Happy Hump Day!

Yesterday was our second of the two-part, all-day adoption education classes we had to take. It went very well. They are preparing us very effectively. I think I liked it better than last week's class! We learned so much!

One of the most valuable parts, for me, was when we talked a lot about coming up with strategies to respond to the often inappropriate/insensitive/overly intrusive questions/comments that the agency said we WILL get (e.g., how much did you pay for your child, is she yours, where did she come from, etc.). People don't mean to say the wrong things, but the fact of the matter is, they do, and they will. Mostly they do this unknowingly, but can be very hurtful to your child (often, these things are said in front of your child--can you imagine how important, then, your response, as a parent, would be? how your split-second decision to respond--and what you choose to say--will impact your child's sense of identity, who she is, how she thinks she's valued and seen in the world, for years to come?). No small responsibility there!

Here's one story that was told to us. A mom was in a grocery store with her children (two girls from India, four boys from Korea). The checkout clerk gave her the "triangle stare" (look at mom, look at dad, look down at kid, start again) and then said, "Oh, look--exchange students!" The mom, in her infinite wisdom and dry sense of humor, looked over the clerk's head and around the store and yelled, excitedly, "WHERE?"

The woman got the point: These were Margie's kids, and just b/c they don't look like her doesn't mean they aren't her kids and she isn't their mother. Identity is so important for children, and especially for adoptive children, who are no doubt having to navigate life with already-confusing (at times) identity issues.

I can go on and on, so I won't. Suffice to say that we had an excellent class and met a great group of parents who we hope to stay in touch with over the months/years of this journey. Many live in our area!

We are now just waiting for our caseworker to contact us and schedule the home visit (this is the part of the home study where she physically comes to our house and meets with us in person, in our home environment, to assess our living situation and do a kind of psychosocial/behavioral study of us). The home visit is what gets every adoptive parent perhaps the most nervous. I don't know, though. I like our caseworker, and she certainly doesn't make me nervous. She's a person just like everyone else! Jeff and I are both good with people, so I don't think this will be much of a source for anxiety--at least not for us. Who knows? Things could change as time goes on. Remind me I said this later, if I post any nervous feelings about the home visit in the upcoming weeks!

Thanks for continuing to be there, supporting us on this often overwhelming, but terribly exciting, roller coaster ride!

I know this post was kinda long...sorry about that! I guess my love of talking translates directly to the computer keyboard, as well!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Korean Food, Culture

So, as part of our "homework" for tomorrow's Part 2 All-Day Adoption Class (assignment: learn about the food and/or culture of Korea by eating out at a Korean restaurant, visiting a Korean grocery story, talking with members of a Korean church, or simply doing good old Internet research), we went out to eat last night at a Korean restaurant in Rockville called Sam Woo. There were a couple of others nearby, so we figure in the upcoming months, we'll hop around when we get a hankerin' for Korean food. We were pleased that (a) we liked it and (b) it's actually quite healthy...very heavily vegetable based (along with beef-based, but I'm not a huge meat fan so although I enjoyed the meat aspect, I liked the veggie part better). You can make it not healthy by eating some of the fried stuff, but it didn't look all that appealing and so it was pretty easy to pass up (my Weight Watchers leader would be so proud of me!).

The reviews of this restaurant looked pretty good, and it seemed pretty authentic. They did warn us that non-Koreans are only given so-so service (and they were right-that's my only complaint). Nice atmosphere, mostly Asian folks eating there (always a good sign), and I tried kimshi for the first time! Turns out there are many, many different kinds of kimshi. We tried one with cabbage, garlic, and red pepper paste (which is apparently what most Westerners picture when they picture kimshi), another one that had cucumbers (kind of pickled), again with red pepper paste (nice and SPI-CEE!). We also had this vegetable broth-based soup that also had beef and potatoes in it. Again, red pepper paste made it hot to the tongue, but very tasty! We also tried various cold dishes that involved clear noodles that had a sauce that tasted kind of pickled/sour. They had these meatballs that looked and tasted exactly like Swedish meatballs (who knows? Maybe they were. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar). They were so good!

Also, we had bulgogi, which is this tender beef cooked in some sort of sweet something-or-other (y'all know I don't cook--at all, not ever, so describing this food to you is kind of challenging!). It was a buffet, so at times we weren't sure what we were eating, but we do know that it was all authentic Korean food! Then we went to Barnes and Noble and bought ourselves some Lonely Planet guides to Korea and Seoul. I spent the evening reading about Korean culture and learning a lot!

Tomorrow is our second class. I'll let ya know how it shakes out.

Take care,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

First Adoption Education Class

Our class yesterday went very well...we learned so much about adoptive parenting and how it is both different and yet similar to birth parenting. Too much to really go into on a blog site, but suffice to say, we emerged much more enlightened about our future role as parents!

We met three other couples (two of whom are adopting from Korea, one of whom is adopting from India), as well as a very nice single woman who is adopting from Russia. Catholic Charities is compiling all of our contact information and will share it with all of us at next week's class, so that we may keep in touch with one another even after these two classes come to an end.

Turns out that the one guy, Bryon, grew up in Cunningham, PA, which is only about an hour from my hometown of Dunmore--in addition, we lived in the Cunningham/Hazleton area when I was very small, so we were talking about our shared small-town PA was very cool. What a small world.

I am very tired today, though. It was a LOT of mental stimulation and "work," absorbing all of this. This is not small stuff that they are teaching will indeed be life-changing, and although we're certainly ready for it, it still takes a lot out of ya! I am drinking coffee right now, which tells you something (I am not a coffee drinker and only resort to it in times of desperation).

Talk to you all soon! Thanks, as always, for caring enough to check in and find out our latest scoop.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog

It all comes back to the dogs. Funny how that is.

This weekend, we finished up the missing pieces of our home study packet, made a photocopy for us to keep, and will be submitting it to Margie tomorrow at our adoption education class (all day). YAY! What a huge relief it is to finish this up! And I'm so excited about our class tomorrow. We'll be meeting families that we will very likely be traveling with to Korea, when the time comes. We'll be part of the "May 2008 Home Study Group." I'm sure we're on our way to meeting some very close future friends (or so my friends who have adopted tell me). There's nothing like shared experiences to bring strangers together as friends.

The only thing that is missing from the home study packet (but won't prevent me from submitting it anyway!) is the darn dog licenses for Montgomery County. Once we get the metal tags in the mail, we have to photocopy each one and submit them as part of the home study, to prove that our dogs are properly licensed and "legal" in our county. I called Animal Control today to check on the status...they said they will be mailed this week. So these tags are only days away from coming in the mail. I think Margie will be satisfied, for now, with this answer (knowing that I'll be able to send her something next week).

Go figure...who would've ever thought that the very last piece of the puzzle would be two shiny metal tags to be affixed to the collars of our beloved beagles? Today, Elvis Presley's famous song rings truer than ever before...

Thursday, May 8, 2008


[insert visual: Kathleen doing her happy dance, which is downright scary and you don't want to see it b/c I'm a horrible dancer]

The fire department and health inspectors came yesterday, and we passed both. Of course there's a story that goes along with that.

The fire department came and went in about 10 min.

The health inspector, on the other hand, wouldn't actually pass us yesterday b/c of one issue: Our other two "doors of egress" (door to the garage and door leading out of the mud room onto the side of our house) did not have a deadbolt lock that can be turned from the inside with a twist of one's hand. The front door had it, so we thought we were good (that was one of the criteria they stipulated in the list we received). Nope. So we called a local locksmith, who came right out that day and installed the two required locks. Then the inspector came back this morning and passed us. Yay!

Both inspections took less than 10 min. So much for our diligent cleaning. Well, at least we have a nice, clean house now! With new trash cans...and smoke detectors...and ceiling paint. (sigh) We should invest in Home Depot stock or something!

We went to an adoption seminar on Korean culture/education on Tuesday evening. We also attended the monthly "Parents in Progress" support group meeting that same night. It was great to connect with other couples who are at similar stages of the process, one of whom live in Olney! So we exchanged information and are going to get together for dinner sometime.

Next week, we have our first of two all-day Tuesday adoption education classes. I'm excited, b/c it's also the day we are going to turn in our entire home study packet to our caseworker (while we're there, might as well kill two birds with one stone, ya know?). Turning in this packet is one of those "adoption milestones," so this is a big, big deal for us!

Sorry for the long post. There is so much going on this week!

Talk soon, and hugs to all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Home Inspections TODAY!

The county health inspector and the fire department both are coming at 2:00 today for their respective inspections. I can't write much now because (a) I'm on deadline at work and (b) I'm nervous as anything about this inspection and am trying not to think too much about it (was up till midnight last night doing last-minute cleanup). Jeff will be meeting the inspectors at the house. Think good thoughts, keep your fingers crossed, pray for us, send us positive energy--do whatever it is you do that will help us to soar through these inspections with flying colors! Thanks, as always, for checking in on our blog--and for being such good friends/family. You are keeping us sane!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Taking Time Out in NYC

What a wonderful weekend I had with my awesome friend Serena, her husband Dan, and their two adorable sons, Declan (2.5) and Griffin (11 mos). They live in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn...very nice part of town, walkable to pretty much everything. We walked around Prospect Park (what an amazing park--you feel like you are in the middle of the country!), went to the local market, Serena and I went to a live show at the Bowery Ballroom (trying to get my live music fixes in while I still can!), and of course, I had such fun playing with the boys all weekend long! The weather was AMAZING and it was just the respite that I needed. I did absolutely nothing adoption related...meanwhile, Jeff was dealing with carpet cleaners and getting the house in tiptop shape for our health inspection, God bless him (I think the inspection will be this Wed, with the fire inspection).

It was nice hanging out with little our family it's mostly girls. They sure love their books, which made me soooo happy and more than willing to read them story after story after story. Declan played his guitar and sang to me about chicken nuggets and dinosaurs and "you are my sunshine." He's gonna be a rock star when he grows up!

The Amtrak ride from DC to Penn Station went w/o a hitch, but my subway adventure getting to Brooklyn was, um, interesting to say the least. But I got there, and from then on, we had SUCH A BLAST that I forgot all about my confusion on the subway earlier in the weekend. Suffice to say that I am relaxed, renewed, refreshed, and ready to plow ahead on a lot of home study-related stuff we have going on this week!

Talk soon, and more updates as things happen.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Bloodwork and Bureaucracy

So, this morning I went to get my blood drawn for all the various tests that Catholic Charities require we undergo (AIDS, Syphylis, drug testing, etc.). Getting blood drawn (regardless of what it's for) is so bureaucratic and reminds me of everything that's basically wrong with our health care system. They take the person completely out of the process; granted, I understand that they do the same blood draws how many hundreds of times, probably, each day, but still, some courtesy or a smile would be nice.

My solution, lately? Kill everyone with kindness.

The ruder the receptionist, the sweeter and more smiling I am. My goal with people at places like LabCorp is to get a laugh out of them. And I usually do!

Today a pregnant woman was sitting in the waiting room across from me, rubbing her belly. That was kind of hard to see; it brought back a lot of memories about the mountains of bloodwork I myself went through during the fertility treatments and then later, once I was pregnant. But I did OK. I kept telling myself, "You're going to be a parent, too, Kathleen, and that's AWESOME!"

So that's one more thing to check off the list. I think I'll have a glass of wine tonight (it's our "date night") and raise a toast to the cotton taped on the inside of my arm.

Cheers, everyone, and have a wonderful weekend! Tomorrow morning, I am taking the Amtrak to NYC to visit my dear friend Serena, see a show, and get to know her two adorable little boys! I'm so excited for my adventure! I need a break from all of this adoption stuff.

Wish me luck in navigating the NYC subway system. I'm a little nervous about that part.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weird Dreams About Motherhood

So, last night I dreamed that I was in this mall, shopping with my friends from high school, and I kept on looking for a maternity clothing store. The mall person kept referring me to the regular maternity clothing store--you know, the only one there is...for pregnant women. And I kept patiently explaining to her: "No, I was told there is a maternity clothing store for adoptive moms-to-be! Where is THAT store?" I kept insisting to her that this store existed. She kept insisting that it didn't.

But then in the middle of the dream, I stopped, thought for a moment, and realized: "Aha! I don't need new clothes! I am indeed going to be a mother--but I don't need to worry about replacing my wardrobe for 9 months, like most women do!"

And then I kind of chuckled to myself, and I thought, "Well, that's kinda nice, isn't it?"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Federal Fingerprinting and Fire Ladders

Yet another productive weekend: We went for our fingerprinting for the Feds on Saturday (this is all related to the application we submitted, an I-600A, asking for permission to escort an orphan from another country to the U.S.--as you may remember, we will only be considered "guardians" of our child until a couple of months after we bring him/her home--the adoption is finalized in the U.S., whereas for other countries, it's finalized while you're over there.) We were able to go to this "Application Service Center (ASC)" in Wheaton, MD (only a 5-min drive from our house). It wasn't even that busy. We got there at 8:00, were out of there by about 8:40.

Yay! Yet another thing to check off our list. But I just realized that we won't hear back from the Feds until our agency submits our home study; so it'll be a while, as I don't expect we'll be able to turn in our home study until the end of May or even early June.

Now the next main focus is getting ready for this county health inspection, which is scheduled for the week of May 5. This weekend, we did a lot (actually, Jeff did most of it) to ready the house. We updated and/or installed all of the required smoke detectors. We began some general cleaning and "decluttering." Our friend Neal is going to help hang the house numbers next weekend (our house only ever had house numbers on the mailbox!), which have to be a certain size as stipulated by either the county or the fire dept (can't remember which, but we'll need the house numbers for both inspections).

I talked to my friend Pam, who recently went through all of this (she and her husband Michael have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter, Emily, whom they adopted from China). She encouraged me to try to relax about it...they were terrified by this inspection and everything turned out OK for them and they passed (they live in a much older house that was in the middle of renovations at the time of their inspection). So she said she suspects we'll be just fine.

One tip: She said "Make sure you have the fire ladders!" Here I was, kind of making fun of the fact that we spent $90 on two fold-out fire ladders; glad we got them! She said this is something they definitely check!

So that's the scoop for this very soggy Monday morning. Keep on checking in! I especially enjoy reading people's comments. I love it when you guys post comments!

Huge hugs to all,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Fingerprinting Tomorrow

What a GORGEOUS spring day it is here in the Washington area! The flowering trees are just bursting with color, and the air is fragrant and rich. It finally feels like spring is officially here! What a mood lifter this weather has been!

Well, here's the scoop: We already heard back from CJIS (a.k.a., the state of MD fingerprinting/background check discussed in my last post)...the place we went to just this past Saturday. We have been cleared--neither one of us is a convicted felon or has law-breaking skeletons in our closets. Whew! We were surprised at how quickly we got the state documents certifying that we are legit!

Now, onto the next step in fingerprinting--this one is for the feds. The Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Immigration Services ( requires us also to get fingerprinted. But this one was more involved. We had to fill out an application, send it in along with our payment, and then wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. Only after we receive that letter (which we have since done) can we then go to a USCIS branch and get processed/fingerprinted. That's what we're doing tomorrow (Friday). This clearance takes longer: Our caseworker said to expect a 3- to 4-week wait.

Ah, waiting. Already, I can write a book about waiting, and we've only begun. But hey, we are taking small steps toward parenthood every day!

By the way, not sure if I told you: We postponed the county health inspection. It was supposed to happen yesterday. Too much to do to prepare for it. We're taking the next two weekends to "shore up" our house, and the inspector will come the week of May 5. Will keep you posted on how that goes.

To those of you who have had kids naturally: Ain't you glad you don't have to go through all of this you-know-what? (smile) Do YOU have Level 2ABC fire extinguishers in YOUR home?

Take care, all...and thanks for checking in!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Fingerprinting & FBI Background Check

Hi, everyone! Hope you had a nice weekend. This post is kind of long, but I needed to vent. Thanks in advance for being there to listen.

We spent our amazingly sunny Saturday in the Maryland CJIS Office in Pikesville, waiting in line to be fingerprinted for the state and for our FBI background check. It was this tiny little office where we all sat in those chairs that have little mini-desks attached to the one side. I felt like I was in school, taking a standardized test! Ha ha! This office is only open on the first and third Saturdays of the month, so we (and the rest of MD) selected this weekend to go. Not sure why I was surprised that we had to wait--but I was! We were there for about 1.5 hours. I should be used to waiting by now, as it seems to define most of the adoption process. But I guess I just forgot. It felt good to get that over with. Jeff and I were entertaining everyone in the waiting room (being our usual friendly selves), chatting with random people about how, all of a sudden, at times like this--when there's nothing else to do--the little "extras" on one's Blackberry and cell phone become so compelling and exciting! I swear everyone was discovering new and interesting aspects of their techno-devices. The teenager next to me was texting her friends (no reception inside this office). I was playing this pathetic little game called "brick breaker" or something like that on my Blackberry and was making noises as I got killed or lost my last "life" in the game. Or I'd scream: "YES! I got a laser!" Jeff kept elbowing me telling me to be quiet! It was funny. And I was texting my brother. I'm always impressed when I can figure out how to text. I'm not a very frequent "texter" so when I do it, I'm so proud that I figured it out! And when Steve texted me back, it was the highlight of my wait at CJIS! Ha ha!

We also went to the hardware store after CJIS and bought stuff that we need to get our house in order for the Montgomery County home inspection--which was supposed to happen this Wednesday, but Jeff's going to be in Boulder and we simply can't get all of this stuff done by Wednesday. So I called the inspector to reschedule it for early May. Here's an example of just some of the stuff we have to do: Install smoke detectors on every floor (we have five floors)(we have a couple already, but definitely not one on every floor!), fix the peeling paint on the ceiling of our master bedroom (no indoor peeling paint is allowed), clean out the lint/crap from behind and under the washer/dryer in the laundry room, get rid of all cobwebs in the house, and have NO CLUTTER anywhere, not even in the garage (where most normal people, even clean people, HAVE clutter)! Regarding the clutter issue, I keep repeating the mantra: Miracles do happen. Miracles do happen. This is just a sampling. We had to buy collapsable fire ladders, for God's sake (for every bedroom, there must be TWO forms of "egress" in the event of an emergency--hence the fire ladders, which we'll keep near the front window of our bedroom). We have to get our rugs cleaned, and the house has to be pretty immaculate when the inspector comes (and everyone knows how much I LOVE to clean). And I have to get Jasmine's vaccinations and wait for the dog licenses to come in the mail, before this inspector gets here. So much to do! And in the meantime, regular life marches on, oblivious to the fact that we have so much to do in ADDITION to regular old life! Arrgggh!

We're still waiting to hear about the financial situation. We're OK for now, but I'm still very on edge. I've been very anxious about a lot of things lately. I'm extremely worried, but I'm sure everything will work out. It just sometimes feels like every little thing we don't do right, or every little tiny requirement we don't meet, will prevent us from becoming parents. I know it's paranoid, but it's how I'm feeling.

So, onward. I'm teaching yoga tonight, so that'll be a welcome respite.

Peace out,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Online Courses, Health Inspections, and State Fingerprinting

Hi, everyone. Our days continue to be busy, filled with not only our weekly activities (teaching yoga, taking yoga, taking drumming lessons, meeting friends for dinner) but also our efforts at gathering the necessary documents for the home study and meeting the necessary requirements. In addition to all of that, Jeff is traveling to Boston this week for two days and then to Boulder next week for about half the week.

Yesterday, I took one of the required online adoption courses: Medical Issues in International Adoption. It was kind of scary, reading about all of the health problems that your child "can" have, but it was eye-opening, too. Better to be prepared for these things than to clueless. I signed up for a bunch of other courses that I'll take in the upcoming weeks.

And on Saturday, we are going to Pikesville, MD (suburb of Baltimore) to get our state fingerprinting done.

Next week, the health inspector for our county is coming to our home. So we have to prepare for that by doing things like making sure there is no peeling paint anywhere on the inside of the home, making sure our trash cans have lids, and ensuring that smoke detectors are installed (and functional) in certain required areas of the home. These are just three examples of the list of about 25 things we have to go over and make sure we're ready for. So we'll be doing some prep work before that inspector comes out.

I'm still estimating late May, early June for the time when we'll be able to submit our completed home study packet to our social worker. Definitely not before then. After she reads through it and makes sure we've met all the requirements, she'll schedule two home visits, where she comes to our home to interview us and assess our living space.

That's all for now. Hope you all are having a wonderful week.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Why We're Getting a Boy

Regarding the question so many of you have asked us--why we'll be getting a baby boy from Korea--here's what our caseworker had to say:

"1) When Koreans adopt domestically, they usually ask for a girl, so there are probably more boys than girls available for international adoption.

2) Our families can request a girl if they already have a boy, or they can leave it up to chance. Most request a girl, so the girls seem to be "saved" for families who already have a boy. I'm very proud that Catholic Charities does not let our childless couples specify gender for any country because most adoptive couples would request a girl, then the boys would be skipped over, and then they would become "too old" for many families to consider adopting them."

So that's the explanation, directly from Margie herself!

On a completely unrelated note, I was poking around on the web at lunchtime today and found this website, On it were these quotes, which kinda choked me up but are so beautiful nonetheless! (You know me and my quotes!)

My Adopted Child....
I did not plant you... true.
But when the alternate prayers
for sun and rain are counted,
when the pain of weeding
And the pride of watching are through,
I will hold you high.
A shining sheaf
Above the thousand seeds grown wild,
Not my planting, but, by heaven
My harvest. My own child!
--Unknown Author

Tomorrow Is a Gift
Many things we need can wait
The child cannot
Now is the time his bones are being formed
His blood is being made
His mind is being developed
To him we cannot say tomorrow
His name is today.
--Gabriella Minstral

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands.
--Kristi Larson

The Things You Do For Love

Hi, guys. I had a fabulous weekend and hope you did, too. There's nothing like getting a pedicure with your very best friend on a sunny Saturday afternoon! (Thanks, Mara!) Girl, our toes are officially ready for spring! (Although it doesn't feel like spring today. I'll have to ask Jeff to use his connections with the weather gods to bring us some warmer weather soon!)

So, I was thinking about all the crazy things we do for love. My big crazy thing was last night, when I wrote a (gulp) $830 check to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (of all places!) for our Federal FBI background check and federal fingerprinting fees. This is called an I-600A form, and it's basically a petition to the U.S. government allowing us to bring an orphan into the country. Man, that check was hard to write...but if it means bringing us one step closer to our kid, then bring it on.

People keep asking me why we were told we will "definitely" get a boy from Korea. My answer? I don't know! Stand by, folks. I'm going to ask Margie, our caseworker, why this is. You all got me curious, too, and this was something that Jeff and I simply forgot to ask her in our meeting. (There were so many other questions floating around in our heads!) I'm going to poke around online, too...

Talk soon, and huge hugs to all,

Monday, April 7, 2008

Friends: My Lifeline

Have you ever had one of those really special times with your friends, where you left thinking, "Wow. I am the luckiest person on Earth to have these souls in my life!" Well, that's what this past weekend was like for me. I am so blessed and humbled to have such amazing and supportive friends in my life. It blows me away, sometimes. They are truly my lifeline, just when I think there's nothing left to hold onto.

What precipitated this, you ask? Well, we had our annual "spa weekend" with all of my friends from high school. This was our fourth year. There were only 9 of us this time (usually, there are 11). This year, it was in the DC area again, so yours truly had a houseful of friends to host! We had such fun! First, we got pampered at the spa on Saturday afternoon (and as is customary, got yelled at in the Tranquil Lounge b/c we were being too loud and obnoxious), then came back to the Halverson Homestead for the after-party (no one yelled at us there). Then it was brunch the next morning at our friends' place, where we looked through our old high school yearbooks and tried (somewhat successfully) to remember people's names--and to make fun of each other for our lovely eighties hair and stylish fashion sense. I laughed so hard this weekend my stomach hurt for much of the weekend. At one point, I had tears streaming down my face and I could barely breathe--and it felt so darn good to be crying out of HAPPINESS rather than anything else! Friends are so healing and so necessary in a journey such as ours. It was a much-needed break for me from the adoption paperwork that we are slowly digging into and getting done. I just felt so HAPPY the entire weekend! No better way to put it than that.

And my friends were so very supportive of our adoption process, asking curious questions and expressing a general interest. It touched me, that people really are seeing this as our version of pregnancy and are treating us pretty much the same as any other set of expectant parents. It means a lot to me. Keep the questions coming--not just on the blog but when you see me in person! I love answering the questions and getting the sense that people are "in this" with us.

Anyone who knows me knows how important my friends are to me, so reading my sentiments here shouldn't be a huge surprise. But I just wanted to "get it out there" and speak my truth to the world: I am so blessed to have all of you as friends. Not just the spa ladies, but anyone who may be reading this. We should all be counting our blessings, even (and most especially) during our most difficult times, when it may be kind of hard to do so.

There's really no update as of yet. Just getting our paperwork done and STILL working on this whole financial end of things for the adoption. I really, really hope it's resolved this week, as it's definitely causing me some angst. So please continue praying, thinking positively, sending good energy, or doing whatever you typically do to wish good outcomes upon people! I'm working hard on that myself.

Hugs to all, and have a great week!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Everyone Think Positive Please

Hey, there. I don't need to go into the details, but we are at a kind of nerve-wracking crossroads in trying to cobble together the money for this adoption, so please think good thoughts, pray for us, and/or send us good energy that this deal we're negotiating will work out OK. I'm kind of a nervous wreck about it but hoping everything will work out. We do have a Plan B, but it's much less appealing than our current Plan A.

I continue to think positively about it all, despite the worries that are living in the back of my brain. I keep trying to feed them and keep them occupied (too bad there's no DVD player in my brain), but they insist on nagging at me throughout the day!

Yesterday I went to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to get my driving record. It was pretty easy, very short wait time (surprisingly), and $12 later, I had a printout of my driving record (zero points and nothing to report--yeah, baby!). It was a very savvy, high-tech dot-matrix printout complete with the perforated dots on either side. Certainly worth the $12 (NOT!).

I made them redo the ink seal saying that it was certified, because I was paranoid the agency would tell us it was unreadable (it was really light, so I had them stamp it on there really good and dark).

So that's the latest folks. Cross your fingers, toes, and whatever other body parts will cross. And hang on for the ride. It's already proving to be quite interesting!

Friday, March 28, 2008

First entry at very bottom

Hi, everyone. Just a reminder. If you're reading this blog for the first time, if you want to read the posts in order, starting with the oldest one, please scroll all the way down to the bottom (I think I've created enough posts now that you actually have to click on a tab that says "Older Posts" to get to the original posting). I noticed that my most recent post always appears first, which is fine for people who have checked in before, but for new readers, you're kinda like "huh"?

There's also a nice menu at the right with quick links to any of the postings, by title. My very first post is called "Step by Step."

Later, gators.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

You Are at the Window

Here's a song I wrote about our little one. It's kind of long, but my coughing's been keeping me up at night. I decided I'd write a song for our child and immediately started humming Mary Black's song, "Adam's at the Window" for some reason. I'm not sure if she's the original songwriter on this song, but she sang it on one of her albums. This one's for the kid, as yet unknown but already alive in our hearts.

You Are at the Window

Written by Kathleen, to the tune of “Adam’s at the Window” (written/sung by Mary Black, an awesome Irish folk singer)

[Verse 1]
You are at the window, waiting for an opening.
Every time the wind blows; it moves you ever closer on a wing.
Standing at a distance, you may not yet know this love I feel.
But take just one step forward; I know I can convince you I am real.
And while we both sit feeling lost, with silence all around,
Your voice is singing in my heart, “Together we are found.
Together we are found.”
And we will soon find our way. We will soon find our way.

[Verse 2]
You are at the window, wondering what it’s like to be inside.
I am waiting in here, trying hard to hang on for the ride.
I wonder what you look like, wishing I could hold you close to me.
But I know that we must wait before we come to get you ‘cross the sea.
And though it seems forever that we wait (im)patiently,
We know that someday soon, each other’s faces we will see.
Our faces we will see.
And we will make sweet your name. We will make sweet your name.

[Verse 3]
I wonder what your eyes see, in a land I don’t know much about?
I wonder what your ears hear—whispers, lullabies and songs and shouts?
I wonder what you’re doing, at this very minute of the day?
So listen now, my child, for there is so much more I have to say.
And as I try envisioning your perfect little face,
Your tiny lips, your fingertips, your innocent embrace.
Your innocent embrace.
And I will sing out your song. I will sing out your song.

[Verse 4]
Eyes that dance with longing, little ears, a tiny little mouth.
You must sometimes wonder: What’s all this “adoption” fuss about?
Well, I will tell you gently, all the days that you are on this Earth:
“This world became better the moment that you graced it with your birth.”
And when the clueless people say, you were our “second choice.”
I’ll tell them quick, you’re our “first pick.” I’ll be your loudest voice.
I’ll be your loudest voice.
And I will speak truth for you. I’ll speak truth for you.

[Verse 5]
You are at the window, waiting for us, patient little one.
And we are sitting in here, doing forms and twiddling our thumbs.
Though we don’t yet know you, are unsure exactly who you are…
We’ll be right here with you, in our darkness you’ve become our star.
And as the twilight falls and sunlight softly settles down,
We’ll say hello, for you we’ll know, although you’re not yet found.
Although you’re not yet found.
And you will shine through our time. You’ll shine through our time.

[Verse 6]
I will be your rooftop, I will keep you dry and safe and warm.
I will be your raincoat, protecting you from hurricanes and storms.
I will be your daylight, reminding you you’re God’s most blessed one.
And I will be your nightlight, in the darkness shining like the sun.
And while the rain taps rhythms on our rooftop far above,
We’ll send to you and lend to you a melody of love. A melody of love.
And we will sing you, our song. We’ll sing you, our song.

[Final verse]
Throwing wide the window, having watched it inch up every day.
Every time the wind blows, I’m reminded you’re not faraway.
Standing closer near me, you may now be feeling what I feel.
Wind, take this child to me, into arms so ready and so real.
And as we three dance wildly in the ever-shifting breeze,
Our arms entwined, our lives designed, we’ll be a family.
We’ll be a family
by choice and not so by chance. We’ll take up the dance.

You are at the window…

Truth vs. What They Tell You

Hi, guys. I just found out from my friend Meg, who has two adopted children from Korea, that her agency had told them that they'd "definitely" be getting a boy as their first child...and guess what? They got a girl!

Lesson learned: The truth might be different from what they are telling you.

Second lesson learned: We'd better stick to yellow and green.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Piles of Paper

Let's break down the word paperwork, shall we? (For purposes of this home study)

Paper + "work" = Kathleen and Jeff being buried in bureaucratic documents for the next couple weeks. Ugh.

But that's OK...considering the outcome! It'll all be worth it in the end. I'm told that all memory of this process melts away when your child is finally in your arms...we cannot WAIT for that day!

In the meantime, let's sweat the small stuff, shall we?

This home study dealio is unbelievable! The things we need to do include getting a health inspection and a fire inspection from the county; replacing our current fire extinguisher with a higher model (we have a "1A" and we need a "2A," whatever that means); getting certified copies of our driving record (each one of us) from the Motor Vehicle Administration (groan--how long will THAT take, considering their reputation?)--and having our employer sign it (what the heck?); getting a detailed physical and bloodwork from our physician; answering a bunch of essay questions about parenting, our marriage, etc.; getting letters verifying employment from our companies; getting three references (one apparently from a priest, minister, or community leader); getting fingerprinted from the state and from the federal government (bunch of steps in each one); taking a bunch of online courses (that cost $35 a pop); reading several books; taking two all-day adoption classes; and the list goes on. We'll move through this as fast as we can, but I have a feeling we won't be finished with this until something like June.

And those are only about one-quarter of the things we have to do. I'm serious. Much of this will involve--yes--even more "waiting," because much of this will be out of our control (e.g., we are at the mercy of whenever the fire inspector can come, whenever the health department can come, etc.).

Wish us luck as we embark upon this home study process! Adoptive parents, please share your thoughts and any tips on how you got through this phase of the process! Good grief!

But even with this enlightening if not somewhat overwhelming day, you still can't wipe the smile off my face. It's so exciting to be on this journey!

Peace and Happy Hump Day (well, it's ALMOST Wednesday, anyway),

And the Decision Is...


We did it, folks. We actually made this decision--finally.

It was tough, but after talking with Margie about domestic adoption vs. international adoption, it became so clear to us that Korea is the path for us, hands down. Some of the advantages we liked: They have the youngest babies (8-10 mos), provide one-on-one foster care (i.e., a foster mother who dotes only on your child), usually have pretty good medical information available, and have been doing adoptions the longest (40+ years) of any country. And unlike countries such as China, Korea does not require a "dossier" (which is basically a big packet of vital paperwork such as original, certified copies of birth certificates and marriage license, 3 years worth of tax returns, etc.).

I know what some of you must be thinking: Why not domestic adoption? The answer is pretty simple: Catholic Charities cannot give us an average or an estimate of any kind, regarding timeline. It just varies SO much, depending on things like (a) when you are selected by a birth mother (one couple has been waiting for 2+ years; another couple got picked in only 9 mos) and (b) if she doesn't change her mind before giving birth--and many do (even after having picked you).

The other reason is that the agency expects you to be doing a lot of "self-marketing" in domestic adoption (basically, e-mailing everyone you know and asking them to spread the word that you are seeking to adopt a child), which quite frankly, is not appealing to us at all. In our opinion, why sign up with an agency if we are expected to do a lot of the "marketing" ourselves? Time is a valuable commodity as is.

Don't get me wrong: This approach does work. I've spoken with some people who have done it this way, successfully. One friend adopted not one but two children within months of each other, only 6 or so months after "spreading the word" via an e-mail that made its way around the country, with various degrees of separation. She and her husband now have two beautiful children, both of whom they adopted within only 1 year of their e-mail. But I just don't think Jeff and I have it in us, to do things this way. It just doesn't feel right to us, and there are too many unknowns that make us uncomfortable.

So Korea it is!

The first time you adopt with Catholic Charities, apparently you are not allowed to specify a gender, which is fine with us. A child is a child, and we'll be happy with whoever we get. Apparently, in Korea these days, as Margie tells us, we WILL get a boy. So that's kind of exciting!

At least I can start doing a color palette for the kid's room, right? (wink)