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!