29 October 2009

Home Study Orientation

We completed the Home Study Orientation yesterday and remain supremely excited about this journey! It was very clear the entire staff is well grounded in Christ and works very diligently to ensure every T is crossed and I is dotted so our adoption paperwork gets through all of the bureaucracy as smoothly as possible. There are literally dozens of documents required for the Home Study and another few dozen required for the Dossier, so this is no small task!

Lesson #1 for anyone considering embarking on this journey : be super-aggressive in completing as many forms as possible before the Home Study Orientation. The Orientation is considered visit #1 of 4 of the home study process so it all starts with the Orientation. David worked very hard over the past couple of weeks compiling all of the information and forms - to include notarizing! Because we turned in so many completed Home Study forms last night, we expect the first in-home visit (technically Visit #2) by the social worker to be within the month. The Home Study Coordinator who conducted the Orientation last night expected us to be able to complete the Home Study before David heads to Newport, RI, for his Navy schooling in January. That would be fantastic and is what we were secretly hoping for!!!!!

We drove to the AWAA National Headquarters in McLean, Va, for the Orientation, and it was great to see the folks who will be guiding us through the next few months. We met our Family Coordinator, Caitlin, who was as excited to meet us as we were to meet her. She is one of three Ethiopia (ET) Program Family Coordinators, and she currently represents about 40-50 families. The ET Program has nearly doubled every year for the past few years, and AWAA recently added a third Family Coordinator (Caitlin) because of the increased work load and to minimize the time consumed by paperchasing. She was so excited because she rarely gets to meet her families in person - as we're spread throughout the country. All of the Family Coordinators for AWAA work out of the national headquarters office. As we exchange what I'm sure will be dozens of e-mails with Caitlin as we compile the 20-30 documents required for our Dossier (official "adoption package" that will be routed through the State Dept and to the Ethiopian Govt), it will be nice to put a face to those e-mails.

15 October 2009

Preparing for the Home Study......and Celebrating Alicia's Birthday!

Last week, we received the bulk of the initial paperwork required for the Home Study. This was in the form of two e-mails, each containing at least a dozen attachments. Most of what was sent were forms that we will review - many requiring our signatures. A few of the attachments were pamphlets that describe the process and which forms and fees are due when. That has been especially helpful.

We will attend an orientation at AWAA headquarters in McLean, VA (near DC) at the end of the month. We're not sure how often they are offered, but the orientation is the first step of the Home Study. Our schedules allowed us to make the trip this month so we figured we would take advantage of the timing and get the process started as soon as possible. In the mean time, we certainly have enough to read and keep us occupied. Another requirement is to complete an on-line course - the National Council for Adoption Hague Intercountry Adoption Online Training Course. All prospective adoptive parents are required to complete this course. Alicia has started, and I will start next week (I've been on three ships conducting assessments over the past 3 wks). Alicia and I did a good bit of research (along with a lot of prayer and discussion) before deciding to adopt, but the folks at AWAA have done a great job in presenting a ton of information in such a way that we're not overwhelmed. We feel very well-informed and prepared for each step.

On top of getting a lot smarter on the adoption process over the past couple of weeks, we celebrated Alicia's 40th birthday. Alicia loves the mountains so I planned a surprise celebration this past weekend at a place in the Blue Ridge. I activated the Surface Warfare Nuclear Officer part of my brain - the really meticulous part - and planned everything for the weekend, to include a nature hike, horseback riding and a celebration dinner. I also managed to fit in a little golf for myself......you know, a little something for the effort.

The entire weekend went perfectly thanks to my nuclear planning......and also to our wonderful friends who could celebrate with us! I'm especially proud of the fact I kept all of this a secret from Alicia because I started planning in mid-August. I only told her where we were going after we were on the road. She grilled me for details while she was packing the night before, though. After a secret phone call to the place, I then could tell her that hair dryers and bath robes were included in the room - a detail I never considered but I now realize it's a crucial element in a woman's packing strategy. To maximize the surprise effect, I didn't tell her some of our friends would join us!

When she ran into her brother out of the blue as we headed to dinner the first night, I knew I succeeded in surprising her. Before our nature hike the following morning, Alicia ran into two other couples who joined us for the celebration. At this point, she began to suspect that all of these folks didn't happen to choose the same place for the same weekend just by chance. She wondered who else she would discover as she turned around the next corner. I successfully resisted her questions!

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner Saturday night, where she met the last few couples who joined us for the weekend.

We continue to need your prayers for strength, determination, and an unquenchable enthusiasm for our adoption adventure. This journey is only just beginning, and we are just as excited today as we were a month ago!