Tuesday, December 23, 2014

it's a christmas miracle?

Yes, we're still adopting.  Yes, the process is still going s-l-o-w.

Here's one problem:  I'm not at home much.  This is what, the 23rd day of the month?  I've spent 12 days away from home and 11 days at home.  And those days I am at home, it's generally just for sleeping.  I work odd, infrequent hours with my new job.  Yes, I realize that's going to have to change when our daughter is home, but for now, it is what it is.

Another problem is that due to some unforeseen delays (car accident, new job, clarifying some paperwork) and then I'm not sure what else, it's taken us far longer than expected to get our home study completed.  I honestly thought we'd have it done by March, April at the latest.  Then it was beginning of August.  And then end of September.  But by mid-December, we finally had our home study in hand for proofing.  And then, you know, I've not been home much to actually proof it.

But that piece of paper there....that's the confirmation that my faxed, proofed home study went through to the agency.  I just have to send in our signature sheet, wait for them to make the revisions, and then we lurch forward ever so slowly again.
As I've said before though, God has our perfect child in mind and she'll be there when we get there.  It doesn't matter who or what has caused delays (me included).  The timing will be perfect.

In the meantime...

If you happen to follow us on instagram (@chasingpaperairplanes), you'll see that we've been participating in Advent for Orphans through Lifesong for Orphans.  There are corresponding Bible verses for each day and a challenge per se.  We've been keeping track of our donation for each day and plan to double it -- in other words, we're going to make a donation to Lifesong to help support other families, but we're also going to make an extra deposit into our own adoption account.  If you would like to join us, it's not too late.  Just head over to our instagram account (again, @chasingpaperairplanes) and check back through the other days to track your donation.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 28, 2014

adoptive families + affordable fashion

Forgive me for posting a selfie here, but I had to show off my new pair of Subsidy Shades.

Here's why I'm willing to plug Subsidy Shades:  the company's whole mission is to "[create] adoptive families through affordable fashion."  The owner is an adoptive mom herself.  She's constantly donating a pair of sunglasses to other adoptive families for use in their instagram auctions and I'm sure helps out in other ways that I don't even see.  So naturally, as adoption is clearly an issue near and dear to our hearts, I jumped on the opportunity to help promote the company.

I'm posting this today, on Black Friday, because Subsidy Shades is running a pretty sweet deal -- 50% off + free shipping.

I may have splurged on a few pairs for our (future) daughter:

Lovestruck Jelly Pink Heart Shades
Patriotic Wayfarers
Isn't she going to look super cute in these?!
Oh, and if you're wondering what I'm wearing above, those are the Tortoise Gloss Wayfarers.
Thanks for humoring me with this review.  Hope you'll check out the site soon and help support others in their adoption efforts!
(P.S.  Notice to the feds...  I did receive a pair of these sunglasses for free in exchange for promoting the shades on my blog.  All words and such are all mine.  Credit for the two photos immediately above goes to Subsidy Shades.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

long overdue update.

When I start to get frustrated with our adoption process -- with us -- I remind myself that we will get to our daughter at just the right time, whenever that may be.  It doesn't matter how fast or slow we work, our agency works, and governmental agencies work.  God has our child picked out for us no matter when we arrive.

That said --

The good news is that our home study is officially out of Indianapolis and into the hands of our international team in Detroit.

The not-so-awesome part is that we've had to clarify things a bit and there's one document we have to re-do, so until they can revise a section and we provide that updated document (working on it!), we're at a standstill.

So there's your not-so-exciting adoption update.  We're still trucking along, but slowly.

Aside from waiting, here's what else we've been up to in the past month or so:

I finished this quilt top (only 5 months after the baby was born!), which CJ helpfully held up for me:
I had a work meeting in Lafayette one afternoon and hopped over to West Lafayette to visit my cousin, Mindy, at Purdue.  She took me to get a Den Pop.  I was a little skeptical/scared of it, but it turned out to be pretty amazing.
 We then at the Triple XXX, which was on my life's bucket list.  I had the Dwayne Purvis All-American burger, which is a burger cooked in peanut butter sauce (I think).  It.  Was.  AM-A-ZING.

 We braved the cold temperatures at the last Indy Eleven game of the season.

I went to Chicago for several days for work.

I've been buying our future daughter some things here and there.  One of our goals is to help her maintain her Chinese heritage, so I was pretty pumped when I found these wooden blocks with Chinese characters on them.

Ellie (left) and Henry celebrated Halloween.

CJ has been hard at work on some projects for us.  Safety first around here.

He made this sofa table for me, partially out of reclaimed lumber.  I pretty much love it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

next steps

The adoption process is S-L-O-W for us, as you know.  I do know that our caseworker is putting the finishing touches on our home study.  It'll still have to be approved by several people, but the good news is, we're moving along.

Since we're in the final stages of the home study process, we're now eligible to move on to the next step, which is...

More paperwork!

Yes, I think some of this is red tape-like.  But, it's how the process is and we happen to think adoption is what we've been called to do, so we'll tackle the paperwork, no matter how long it takes me to do it.  (Let's be honest.  I love my husband, but he signs where I tell him to and that's about the extent of his involvement with the paperwork.)

For your information, this round of paperwork does include some duplicate requests (health insurance forms, photos, special needs checklists), but includes some new to-dos:
  • Personalized letter from us stating why we are pursuing the adoption of a child with special needs, if both of us will return to work, and what our expectations are of the child short- and long-term.
  • Family care and training plan that will identify doctors, education experts, language interpreter, and mentor families
  • Letter of reference indicating our experience in learning or observing a child with medical/special needs
  • Photos -- another one of us, copies of our passport photos

I share all of this for a few reasons:
  • As we have in the past and will probably request your assistance in the future with fundraising, I feel it's important to have an idea of what this process is like and how the funds are used.
  • In case anyone reading this is interested in adoption, I hope this serves as a good tool for you to have a better understanding of the process.  I fear it may turn some people away, but I also think that if the paperwork doesn't bother you, it's probably a good indication that you're going the right direction.  I may sigh and complain occasionally about the paperwork, but in the end, it doesn't truly bother me.  It's mostly just paperwork.  It may take me time, but God will lead us to the right child in the right time, no matter when I actually complete all the paperwork.  And, it's a very small price to pay -- using lots of paper, ink, postage, and time -- to get our child out of an orphanage and into her permanent home.

Going forward, I do have a few prayer requests for you, if you're so inclined:
  • Drive to complete the paperwork
  • Fundraising -- I have one idea which I will probably execute through Instagram (follow us at @chasingpaperairplanes), but the idea isn't completely finalized.
  • Sales -- We have lots of wooden and sewn items available from our last handmade market.  I'd love to clear out this inventory and finish the year with all of our agency fees paid.  Please pray for some direction, particularly where a holiday sale might be concerned.

Monday, September 1, 2014

pressing play again

As some of you may have noticed, we went quiet with our adoption for a good chunk of this summer, but I'm happy to report that we've hit play again and are ready to get this ball rolling!
Two months ago, we submitted the bulk of our home study paperwork to our agency.  I had a few other documents left to submit, including our financial sheet, when a few things hit at once.  Keep in mind that whatever is in our home study must match our dossier, all of which goes overseas for approval.
Long story short, here are the two things that have held up the process:
1)  I was rear-ended in my jeep.  It wasn't my fault, but repairs were costly enough that we felt it was best to take the settlement check and purchase a new vehicle.  What previously showed as a (small) asset on our adoption paperwork turned into a large liability.  At the end of the day, we have to show a $80,000 net worth.  That will still be possible, but obviously taking out a new car loan doesn't make the case any easier.
2)  I got a new job.  It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm super excited.  I think it's the answer to many of our prayers.  This move changes our income and changes a few other pieces of adoption paperwork we previously submitted, so I'm in the process of redoing a few forms.
Bad news is that we're a lot farther behind in this process than I ever thought we would be.  But the good news is, God makes everything work together for His good, so even though we've been delayed for various reasons, it will all work out for the best.
Thanks for your continued prayers and support, friends.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

special needs adoption

As many of you know, we are pursuing a special needs adoption for two reasons:
  1. In China, the wait for a "healthy" child is currently running 5-6+ years.
  2. In the international adoption realm, the term special needs has a different meaning.  Here, I think we tend to think of more severe, lifelong needs.  While those needs fall into the definition of special needs in the adoption world, special needs can also cover easily manageable or treatable issues.  Depending on the country, age and being in a sibling group can automatically label a child as "special needs," even if nothing else physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. is wrong.

One of the crummiest parts of the process so far has been completing the special needs questionnaires.  These documents are anywhere from 3-5 pages long and cover a wide variety of needs.  As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not sure if we plan to disclose any of our child's needs once we've been matched.  But for now, I'm okay sharing some of the items we have considered:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Thalassemia (a blood disorder which in the minor form, appears to be quite manageable)
  • Cleft lip/palate
  • Ear deformity with hearing
  • Vision impairment corrected with glasses
  • Hearing deficit with some hearing
  • Deaf in one ear
  • Burns/scars on arms or legs
  • Minor/correctible heart conditions
  • Club feet
  • Missing limb
  • Webbed or missing toes and/or fingers
  • Additional fingers and/or toes
  • Limb deformity

Going through this list the first time was tough.  I beat myself up over it, because every child deserves a home and parents.  And then I beat myself up over it again, because biological parents don't get these choices and it's really probably not fair that I "get to," right?  Going through the list the second time, although not fun, was slightly easier.  We've had to become objective about this part of the process.  It's about educating ourselves and selecting the needs that we can reasonably manage.  In the end, we believe that God already knows which child is ours and it won't really matter which "special needs" we mark or don't mark.

Monday, July 14, 2014

on asking questions

We've received a few questions about what a special needs adoption is and I suspect many more of you have questions but may be afraid to ask.  I'm open to most any question right now.  Please don't hesitate to ask.  Obviously I don't want to talk adoption 100% of the time, but it's nice to know people are interested.  Plus, part of this process really is about educating others, either just for their own knowledge or because they might be interested in adopting themselves.

That said, when we're matched with a child or children, I'm probably not going to answer as many questions.  One, there will be parts of our child's life that will be her story to tell if she wishes.  Was our child abandoned?  Does she remember her biological family?  That information will remain private, for sure.  If our daughter wants to share that information when she's older and informed, then that's her decision.

I'm not sure where we'll stand on answering questions about our child's health.  On one hand, I don't want to violate my child's privacy.  But on the other hand, I have read many adoption blogs where the parents discuss their child's medical issues within reason.  Those blogs have been a great source of encouragement and learning for me.  Some issues I thought were big turned out to be manageable, at least for those kids.  So if my child's story can help another child find their family, then maybe some information is worth sharing?  I don't know.  I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

So.  What questions do you have that you have been too afraid to ask??

Thursday, July 10, 2014

ten hours down....twenty to go.

As part of our adoption process, we are required to have thirty hours of educational training.  Of the thirty hours, we have already knocked out ten of those hours through an online training module:

  • Adopting the Older Child -- We don't have it in our plans to adopt an older child, at least not right now, if ever, but it's still required training.

  • Conspicuous Families -- How to face racial stereotypes, handle intrusive comments, and embrace our child's or children's racial and ethnic backgrounds.

  • Finding the Missing Pieces:  Helping Adopted Children Cope with Grief and Loss -- Factors that affect loss, signs of grief in children at different developmental stages, situations that may trigger grief, strategies to help children grieve their losses, and resources to support children and their families

  • Medical Issues in International Adoption -- The effects of institutionalization, how to evaluate a referral, provided advice on choosing a physician and the medical evaluations our child will need prior to and after adoption, and travel tips.

  • The Journey of Attachment - How to identify factors that affect attachment, how to recognize signs of attachment, and how to understand when professional assistance might be necessary.

Here's what I learned:

  • I learned didn't need a webinar to tell me how I'll handle intrusive comments.  It'll go down one of two ways.  Here's an example question from the webinar: "If someone asks you if that is your real daughter, how will you respond?"  One of the responses was, "No, that's my fake daughter."  And that's the one I chose.  So I'll either be sarcastic....or just look at the person like they're dumb.  I don't mean to do this - honestly, truly I don't - but when someone asks me a question that I think is so basic or shouldn't even be asked in the first place, I give them a blank look.  I'm honestly trying to come up with an appropriate response, but unfortunately, the look on my face says otherwise.  So maybe I need to work on that.  Or maybe we're all so culturally advanced now that I won't have to answer any awkward questions.  Ha.

  • Medical Issues - Obviously I understand our child will come home with some (hopefully fixable) medical issues.  I'm thankful I married a former paramedic and nurse - someone who is good under pressure and understands lots of medical jargon.  I'll let him handle a majority of that.  Even though this shows how shallow I am, full disclosure here -- what I took away is the info about lice, scabies, and parasites.  That stuff really freaks me out.  Like a lot.  My charge now is to travel armed with the best, most expensive medicine the western world can provide me so I nip these problems right in the bud.

  • Attachment - Sarcasm and shallowness aside, I did pick up some good tips about attachment.   I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to discuss this more in the future, but attachment really is a big deal and luckily, I took away some nice little tips that we plan to use.  For instance, I hope our daughter or children have one special item in the orphanage that we can take and replace with a newer item, the idea being that that item will have a familiar, comforting scent.  Another tip was to purchase a CD of lullabies in our child's native language.  Great idea.  Another suggestion was to purchase and use a baby carrier both in country and at home.  Bottom line, we need to find ways to make our transition as smooth as possible so our child attaches to us quickly, learns that we aren't going away, and learns who mom and dad are.

Monday, July 7, 2014

paperwork...just the start

My mom's most frequently asked question about our adoption is whether we're done with the paperwork yet.

Nope.  The fun's just starting!

I had to take over my sewing table a few days ago to get the home study-related paperwork completed and thankfully, I got the biggest chunk of it mailed off to our agency - finally.  While I know we're nowhere close to being done, it's nice having a chunk of it off my to do list even if it's in the short-term.


For those of you who are interested, here's the sort of paperwork we had to send in for the home study:
  • Affidavit of health insurance coverage
  • Criminal background checks from each city and county we have each lived in for the past five years
  • Financial statement
  • Parental discipline policy
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Special needs placement questionnaire (more on that another day)
  • Education documentation (more on that another day too)
  • A bunch of other random disclosures and documents
Our caseworker will then take her notes from our four in-person visits and put them together with these documents and will write up the formal home study.  We're not done with the paperwork after that by any means, but it's kind of a door that unlocks everything else -- starting the dossier (the official portfolio per se that will travel to China) and applying for most grants.
The time frame we're still looking at to complete the home study is another 6-8 weeks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

is it time for june's photos already?

Does anyone know where June went?

On the adoption front, we moved forward just a bit.  We had our fourth and final visit with our caseworker, in our home this time.  Next steps are for us to get some additional documentation submitted (more on that later this week) and for our caseworker to actually write the home study.  Estimated time for completion and then to move on from there:  6-8 weeks.

We set up shop at the Danville Handmade Market again in June.  Although it's clearly not going to be a big moneymaker for us, we were still more successful in June than we were in May.

Here is CJ hard at work making new items to sell.  We still have some alligator and camel puzzles and some wine vases for sale if you're interested!  (Email me - chasingpaperairplanes13 @ gmail.com) 

I found that I had much more success after last month's handmade market selling to people I know, so I decided to take the plunge and to try to set up an online presence.  I did a giveaway to kick things off.  It's over now and that llama pouch has a new home, but I'd still love for you to follow along.  Head on over to Instagram and search for @chasingpaperairplanes.  This will be the primary way we keep everyone in touch with our journey - at least through real-time pictures - so you'll want to be sure to follow along!
When I haven't been busy creating items to sell, I have been working on one of three quilts that I desperately need to finish in like the next week.  And then I've been taking a break from that by sewing up some string blocks for the Indy Modern Quilt Guild, of which I'm a member.  The other members are making string blocks as well and those will be sewn together in a quilt to benefit the Julian Center here in town.  Those string blocks are kind of fun though...I may need to start making a string quilt for myself....you know, once I finish those other 10 quilts I have started.

In an effort to regain some balance in my life, I've decided that Sundays are now my days to sew for myself for enjoyment only.  So this past Sunday, I knocked one item off my to-make list, this leather and lace clutch.  The fabric behind it is also the lining.  Now I just need someone to take me out on a nice date.

And finally, on a personal note, we did take some time for ourselves this month.  We enjoyed a nice meal on Eagle Creek, set up our (FREE!) fire pit and used it once before the temperature hit ninety degrees, and CJ also ran a 4K a few weekends ago.

All in all, it was a good month.  July looks like it'll probably be a bit slower on the adoption front, but we can still use your prayers for an even more financially successful market on the 12th!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

handmade market #2 recap

As many of you know, we have participated in the Danville Handmade Market for two Saturdays this summer.  Depending on how you look at it - whether you count just the entry fee for four shows, money box, and receipt log - we have come out ahead.  If you consider everything else we've had to purchase like the tables, drop cloths, tent, and chairs, I'm pretty sure we're running in the red.  Aside from the tent, we should be able to get plenty of use from the tables, chairs, and drop cloths in the years to come.  So anyway, all that to say I consider it a win.

I'd consider this past Saturday more of a success than it was at the May market.  I think this  was due to more prayers + a corner spot + different items for sale.  We probably sold equal quantities of wooden goods (succulent planters and animal puzzles) and sewn goods (bibs, crayon rolls, and key wristlets).  But the profit margin on the wooden goods is larger, so that helped.

In addition to selling more goods, we received some great sales advice from a fellow vendor and adoptive parent.  This family, primarily the mother and one of her daughters, sell goats milk soap and laundry detergent.  The girl was actually the only person at the first market who asked us about our adoption.  They stopped by at the end of the day on Saturday and gave us some helpful tips, primarily on how we need to sell the adoption a bit more.  Our sign reads "Chasing Paper Airplanes: Our Adoption Journey."  She pointed out that we need to re-word that to say all proceeds will benefit our international adoption efforts, as "people are likely to think you're adopting a dog if you don't specify."  Believe it or not, we had a handful of people ask us at our garage sale if we were adopting a dog, so I can't assume people know it's actually for a child.  So we plan to word things a bit differently, perhaps make some other signage, beef up the story a bit.

In addition, it's my goal this month to make more adult and pet items.  I'd like to make some zippered pouches as well as journal covers.  I've had a few requests for dog bows too.  Given how many people bring their dogs to the market, several of which ride in carriers or strollers, I really need to target that audience more.  It's just too bad our two dogs are too crazy/love people too much to allow us to bring them along as models.

So that's that.  Thanks for the prayers for this past market; they were much appreciated.

P.S.  In lieu of an etsy shop, I decided to go ahead and post items online for sale.  See what's available!  Again, all proceeds go to benefit our adoption efforts.  Of a child from China.  Not a dog.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

what's for sale

Many of you have expressed interest in items we've had for sale for the recent markets.  I'm (still) contemplating opening up an etsy shop, but until then, I wanted to post pictures of what's available and for sale.  I apologize in advance for the poor picture quality, but I wanted to strike while the iron is hot and get this inventory off our hands and the money into our adoption account!

The rules:
  • Payment - I prefer payments by check or Chase Quick Pay so I can quickly transfer those funds into our adoption account.  I can also take cash, paypal, or credit via square.

  • Shipping - As much as I appreciate the support/purchases, please understand that I cannot drive all over the metro area to make deliveries.  With my old, fuel inefficient jeep and $4/gallon gas, I will lose money.  That said, I'm happy to make deliveries downtown during the week, in my hometown any day, or near my church on the weekends.  Otherwise, the post office is on my way home everyday so I can add shipping to your purchase and get it to you that way.

  • Reservations - This is first come, first serve.  If you want an item but want to wait until we see each other again so you don't have to pay for shipping, I'm more than happy to take payment via Chase, Paypal, or Square and will reserve the item for you that way.

I think that takes care of it all.  Questions?  Interested in an item? Want to see a better picture?  Send me a private message on facebook, see me in person, or send an email to chasingpaperairplanes13 @ gmail.com.

And here's what's for sale!

Bibs are 1 for $7.50, 2 for $14, 3 for $20, or 4 or more are $6 each.  I grouped these roughly by color, but you can buy them mix-and-match.  The bibs are 100% cotton on front and are backed with terrycloth and have a velcro closure.  The sizes aren't completely the same on each bib - got a little lazy with the pattern - but I would say these are good for kids up to age 1.

(1) Multicolor chevron
(2) Multicolor butterflies
(3) Multicolor owls
(4) Multicolor stripes

(5) Multicolor flowery print
(6) Light blue travel print
(7) Light blue owls w/ umbrellas

(8) Red with white flowers
(9) Red with white stars

(10) Multicolor animals/flowers
(11) Multicolor something-or-other print
(12) Fall-ish owls
(13) Black/white hearts

(14) Purple/blue flowers
(15) Orange/blue flowers

(16) Pink/purple daschunds
(17) Coral-y pink print
(18) Pink chevron
(19) Large butterflies

(20) Pink hearts
(21) Pink/navy cow print
(21) Pink & blue random print
(22) Daschunds (duplicate) 

(23) Pink/green print
(24) Pink polka dots
(25) Daschunds
(26) Pink/white chevron
(27) Pink guitars
(How is that pink guitar print still available? It's C-U-T-E!)

(28) Green/blue print
(29) Watermelons

(30) Navy/mint print
(31) Pale green trees
(32) Green/blue Eiffel Tower
(33) Mint/white flowers

(34) Pink/orange stripes
(35) Pink/blue flowers
(36) Orange/pink pigs
(37) Pink w/ orange polka dots
(38) Blue, orange, & yellow flowers
(39) Duplicate of #37.

(40) Gray/blue bicycles
(41) Gray/red elephants
(42) Duplicate of #40
(43  & 44) Red multi-color Pezzy print

(45) Foxes
(46) Monkeys
(47) Navy owls
(48) Multicolor owls

(49) Duplicate of #46.
(50) Duplicate of #48.
(51) Blue/green/brown trucks
(51) Blue elephants on light background
(52) Blue elephants on blue background
(Note:  Some of those trucks in #51 have dogs sitting in the back.  Again, CUTE.)

(53) Turtles
(54) Green argyle

(55) Bows
(56) Brown argyle
(57) Brown multicolor dots
(58) Orange dots

(59) Construction machinery
(60) Tools
(These are coordinating prints.  I LOVE them and am surprised they're still around to be honest.)
Crayon Rolls
These crayon rolls are $12 each and hold 16 crayons a piece.  Once you roll it up, there's a button on back that you can secure by elastic.
(1) Orange/pink pigs & pink polka dots
(2) Black/white hearts & hot pink

(3) Firefighter print
(4) Red/brown monkeys
(5) Blue/black/red ninjas
(6) Construction

(7) Foxes with orange print
(8) Monkeys with yellow print

(9) Multicolor stripe with purple
(10) Multicolor stripe with butterfly print

Key Wristlets
These wrap around your wrist and have a key ring for hooking onto your keys.  They're thick, with 100% cotton on the front and heavy webbing in the inside.  I scotch-guarded in the exterior fabric in an effort to keep it as clean as possible, but I haven't had a chance to test these out yet to see how clean they'll be after like a year in your purse.  These are $8.50 each.

(1) Black stripes
(2) Black & white damask
(3) Gray stars
(4) Gold & black
(5) Gray multi-colored pluses

(6) Pink & red dots
(7) Red Pezzy print
(8) Pink daschunds
(9) Pink/orange/blue flowers
(10) Pink diamonds

(11) Purple w/ blue flowers
(12) Purple pluses/crosses
(13) Multi-colored flowers
(14) Purple chevron
(15) Purple celtic-like print

(16) Orange stripes
(17) Orange & yellow owls
(18) Blue stars
(19) Blue plaid-like print

Wine Vases
We have four of these wine vases for sale at $15 each.  We have two with bottles and two without (at least until we can drink two bottles of wine).  The flower can be included for an additional $1.

Succulent planters & puzzles
We're currently out of the succulent planters, but stay tuned.  Those were a hot commodity, so I'm certain CJ plans to make more.  FYI, those are $15 each with succulents included.  If I need to ship it to you, I'll ship it without the succulent and will quote you a lesser price.

We sold out of some of the wooden puzzles, so once we have more, I'll post those online.  Puzzles are $5 each at the present time.