Sunday, June 26, 2011

Russian Adoption... Take 2

Okay, so I should probably first start off by saying that Randy and I are in a MUCH better place than we were last week. Feeling okay about things again, and even a little positive! I also want to thank everyone that commented and gave us wonderful advice and support! Thanks!!

We were able to put a stop payment on the bank check that our agency lost, and we informed them that we won't be using them for our placement service! We are so thankful that we were able to get that $$ redeposited into our account. Ironically, them losing that check was the BEST thing that could have happened to us.  If they had deposited it, we would be stuck with them. We would have been so deep in  with them finanically that we wouldn't have been able to start over somewhere else.

This is basically where we are now. Starting over. We have decided to go with a new agency, and are going to be working with Adopt-A-Child, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA. They came very highly recommended, had great reviews, and when we spoke with them earlier in the week, they were so efficient, answered all our questions, and actually provided us with more information in one 30 minute phone call then we got from our old agency in 6 months! It was like, "Ah.. THIS is the way it is suppose to be!" We both feel very confident that we are doing the right thing, and actually very relieved that we were able to leave our agency.

So.. we just filled out the application this week and sent it over to get our file opened. The next step will be to go there, sign the contract, and figure out what the next steps are. Since our home study is done, and we have our appt with USCIS on Wednesday, we won't have to start from scratch! They informed us that we can just bring all our documents we already gathered for the dossier for the other agency and we'll go from there!! They do have a mandatory 10-week training course that we need to complete which we hope to start asap.. then we'll be able to get our documents together and sent to Russia! Our hope is that everything will be sent by early September. Since we are open to a child of either gender, we were told we could receive a referral within 2-3 months! So, chances are good we may make at least one trip before the holidays, and have our little one home hopefully late winter/early spring. To be honest, even if it takes longer.. it will be so worth it in the end to just know we are working with an agency that we trust, and to have the peace of mind to know that we are going to get the child that is meant for us.

So, we are hopeful again and feeling positive about things. It is actually nice to not have the "bad feeling" anymore. I would be lying if I didn't say I'm still really nervous and a bit scared.. but I also know in my heart that Randy and I did the right thing! Now, we just have to trust and have faith that we are truly on the path we were meant to take and soon we are going to be meeting our child.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And.. We're Freaking Out!

So, my husband & I knew when we began this process that there would be some "bumps" in the road and some hurdules on our journey.. and honestly, I thought we were prepared for them & ready. Well, I was wrong, because I have to admit that our faith in this process has been completely shattered and I'm actually... really scared.

Has anyone out there considered or had to change agencies?? Well, this is where we are at right now! Considering walking away from our adoption agency... and it's killing me. I am going to babble here.. so beware!

When we began this process in January we were very confident that we picked a great adoption agency and had complete faith that our adoption journey would be a  successful one. We loved that they were an "all in one" type agency and that we could do our homestudy through them as well as get all our documents notarized and apostilled there as well. Less running around and they seemed SO efficient. They were so warm, and so nice and just seemed so professional...

Yet, in the last couple months since WE completed all of our "duties" in this process, and it's all in thier hands, we are seeing a completey different side of them!

Our last home study visit was on March 9th and  we were told then that she'd get our report written up asap so we could move forward! After waiting over a month to hear something, I called my social worker to just get an update on the status of the home study report and to schedule a meeting time to hand over all our paperwork. We had finished our medical exams, and had completed all our tasks and paperwork for our dossier to go to Russia! We were so excited and wanted to get everything over there asap! So, we made an appt for April 20th as I would be on vacation from school, and that would give her a few weeks to complete the report.

However, at that meeting, she informed us that she still needed a little bit more time to finish the homestudy report and if we didn't hear from her in two weeks, to call/email her to "remind" her about it??!!!!
I felt a twinge of worry in my stomach right then, but I sucked it up, said nothing, and went about our "business" of turning over all our documents! On this day we gave them EVERYTHING from our checklist, including a $6,000 cashiers check to cover dossier prep fees and agency administration fees!
We also were able to meet with our adoption coordinator for the Moscow Program! She informed us that our immigration paperwork and check (that we sent over in March) would be sent to USCIS as soon as the homestudy report was finished, AND that there were four other forms we would need to sign and date before the dossier could be sent, but she couldn't draft them until the report was complete as she needed info from it to type them up. She said she'd contact us as soon as the report was done to do that! We were also told by her at this meeting that we were still in great shape, and were "still on track" for a referral in early fall as we had been told at our meeting in February! She then also informed us that we would be the 1st family on the list when the program re-opened the end of August so just to be prepared for a referral around the time I'd go back to school!

Well, about three weeks later when we hadn't heard a peep, I emailed my social worker to "remind" her about the report and was told the "finishing touches" were being done, and  it was completed within that week. We received a copy in the mail on May 12th and began to feel okay about everything again.

Yet, a few weeks went by and no call/email to us about the paperwork! So, on June 1st, I emailed our coordinator & asked about these last forms we needed to sign for the dossier to be sent to Moscow. Two days went by and we didn't hear back. So, Friday, June 3rd and my husband called and was told that the forms would be sent that day.. if not than DEFINITELY Monday. She also told him "not to worry. As long as our paperwork was in Moscow before July 1st we were on track! However, about 30 minutes later we got a call back saying they needed our "original" birth certifcates and marriage certificate. They "couldn't find it"!! We gave them all that stuff in April. She called back quickly to say that she did find it, she was looking in the "wrong" file, and again promised paperwork was being sent out asap!

So this past Monday.. (the 13th!!) when we STILL haven't gotten the forms...I emailed yet AGAIN to find out where these forms were. Tuesday, Wednesday, nothing! No response back. Randy called on Thursday and finally got to speak to the coordinator. She told him that she thought someone else was taking care of that, and she'd find out for us and "get back to us" (still hasn't by the way). When he asked her about the July 1st "deadline" to get everything to Russia so we would be on schedule, he was told that there was actually another couple ahead of us that they had expected would have received their referral already and hadn't. She said that THEY'D be getting the first referral when the program reopens at the end of the summer and we'd be sometime after that! She said that our paperwork would NOT be ready for July 1st as it "didn't" need to be, and  it just needed to be over there before they re-open! Did I mention that we've had EVERYTHING there since April as we were told it all had to be done and sent by the end of June???

So, okay. Yes, bumps. We knew that there could be delays, we sort of expected them. However, it would have been nice if someone CALLED us or contacted us and told us that! Or, if they returned a call or email??!! Needless to say, I was really disappointed, especially since we began to believe we could have our little one home by the holidays! I was teary eyed when Randy called to tell me, but then I began to calm down and realized that if we didn't go for our first trip until October or November.. it would be fine. Actually, maybe it would even be better in a way since I'm moving from 1st grade to 5th next year, and I will be much more settled before I go out on my leave! Besides, a few extra months to save!

Also, I began to think about fate. I truly believed that when we meet "our" child it is the child that was always meant to be ours and we were meant to be his/her parent! So if that was true, then the child that would be available for a referral in August/Septemeber is not "our" child! Again, I really tried to see the positive in all of this, and was doing my best to NOT focus on the negative vibes I was getting from our agency. I would give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe when it is "our" turn they will be much more efficient and supportive. Maybe right now they are truly given 100% to the family ahead of us.

Well, later that same night, this past Thursday, after we found out about the delay, we got a call from our social worker. She apologized for everything that was happening, and said that she knew we have had a hard couple weeks with them and hoped that we knew how sorry they all were. I was just starting to feel a bit better when she then sighed and informed me...THEY CANT FIND OUR $6000 CHECK!!!

I couldn't believe it! I was waiting for her to laugh and be like "Just Joking!" Nope. It was true, she said "nobody there could seem to find it!" What??!!! We gave you that TWO months ago!

She then asked if I could contact my bank and find out if it's been returned or not. She said it would really help them to know if it had been cashed/deposited already. Okay, um.. How do you LOSE $6,000!!!??? How do you not "remember" if you deposited it or not?? It's $6000 not $60! I was so upset, and felt so deflated, I didn't even know what to say. I told her I'd talk to the bank and hung up. Then I sat on my couch and cried. I truly felt defeated. Why was all this happening? Was this a sign? Maybe this path was not the right path for us either? Maybe this "isn't" what we were suppose to be doing!!!!??  So, now what?

I calmed down and talked to the bank yesterday. It turns out it HAS NOT been returned which means its sitting in their office somewhere! The bank said they could put a stop payment on it and reissue us a new one. I said I'd get back to her on Monday after I talked to the agency, but the truth is now we are so skeptical of continuing with them. Maybe we stop the payment...and not give them another check until someone sits with us and explains what is going on over there? Or do we stop the payment on the original one.. eat the money we already spent and switch agencies before we get further into this? Is that even an option? Can we take our Home Study Report and start over with someone else? Would we have to do the training and home study over? Or should we take a deep breath and just hope for the best??

Ironically as I write this, the mailman just came, and low and behold the forms have arrived. Wow, that only took 5 weeks, three emails and two phone calls to get them.... I am so nervous about everything now and my faith is completely shattered.  What should we do??

Of course, I went online earlier and found three pretty negative reviews (two from May one from April) about this agency. : ( All of which were so similar to the experiences we are having. I feel so stuck and so lost. I mean if this is how it's going to be the whole time, what is it going to be like when we get to Russia? I saw one comment from someone that said they went to Moscow FOUR times and had to keep refusing their referrals as they were outside the perimeters they had asked for regarding thier child! After two years of working with them, they walked away. After all that time, $$$, and aggravation, they didn't even get their child! That scares me so much! Could that really happen?? I've heard horror stories but assumed that it didn't happen anymore.

As I look at my paperwork now that I'm told is "time sensitive" and I shouldn't delay in sending back.. (Really??? I've been waiting since MAY for them!!!!) It states we are requesting a child up to 36 months with correctible medical issues, yet we requested a healthy child 0-24 months. So confused!! What does that mean?? I'm freaking out!!

This is the BIGGEST decision we have ever made and I feel like we are dealing with incompetent, unprofessional people. I also don't want to "start from scratch" and would like to hope that it is going to turn around over there. I'm so confused about everything, and really just so bummed out! I don't want to spend all this money and time on this if it's going to end up like that other couple. Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if we are meant to do this at all. I've actually begun to feel that if our families hadn't already had a fundraiser for us that we'd walk away from this completely. I'm scared, and I feel lost and don't know what we should do?What is god trying to tell us? Are Randy and I not meant to have children? It breaks my heart to think that.

Anyone have any advice? Similar experiences??

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer is Here!

I feel like I haven't written in so long, but basically that is because there has NOT been much to write! We are in a very quiet period in this process, where there is nothing for us to do but... continue to wait! Our  agency keeps telling us that we should still expect a referral in early fall, which I realized today.. isn't that far away!

Today, it was over 90 degrees and it's going to be even hotter tomorrow! I'd say summer is "officially" here, which means we are that much closer to our referral and meeting our little one!! We have 11 more days of school... (Would be only 7 if it wasn't for the snow days!) and then I'm on summer break! I remember as a kid how LONG that summer vacation seemed to be! Well as a teacher, I have to say, it FLIES by, and before you know it's over, and we're back at school meeting our new class! So, if that pattern continues then hopefully the time will fly by until we get our referral!!!

Of course, being me, I'm now starting to worry that our first trip to Russia is going to be the week I go back to school! I'm just hoping that I get just a few days with my kids to get settled before we have to go! My social worker told me last week.. "You're going to get your referral right as your school year starts!" Ugh!! I am nervous! If they want us there the week school starts, can I postpone by a few days? Do they let us do that or would that push us back? I know I shouldn't worry! I love my job and my students but this is our child and our life! I just would not feel right about NOT being there the first few days! I know, I  know.. I should not worry about it and just believe that all is going to work out! : )

So 11 days until the school year is over, then we've got our appointment for finger prints at USCIS on the 29th, and then... maybe we'll finally order the bedding and begin to paint the nursery! Actually, when I think about how quickly the last five months have gone by.. I'm thinking that these last few months should go quickly! I hope so!! : )