Adopting Grace

The journey to bring our little girl home

It’s Here!

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Our i-171H from the federal gov’t is here! The (sort of) funny thing is…is has been for a while and we just didn’t know it. We received a letter last weekend saying that we’d been approved and our paperwork had been forwarded to another office. We assumed we’d get an official looking form soon after,so when we didn’t we did some research and realized the letter was actually the I-171H! It’s only identified in tiny print on the bottom and almost looks like junk mail. For such an important piece of paper it’s very plain. I had been all ready to get excited when it finally came in the mail, only to realize it was sitting on my kitchen counter! After feeling a little dumb we heard from several others that they had done the same thing when theirs came. So we’re getting it apostilled and hope to send out our dossier early next week. The Ukrainian gov’t is closed for the first 2 weeks in July (a scheduled, routine closing), but our dossier has to be translated anyway and by the time that’s done they should be accepting dossiers again and we won’t really have lost any time.

Everything else is moving along too. The dinner and auction is coming together and we ended up hearing about another family in Ukraine who said they would be willing to let us stay with them if our orphanage is close by. We’re really hoping to get an exact location soon and we’d love to be able to stay with one of these missionary families…partially to cut costs and partially because it would be great to get to see firsthand how God is working through them.

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Medical Counseling

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We had an appointment with a spina bifida specialist in Iowa City this morning to talk about what we can expect to face with Grace’s care and what we should tackle first. She was wonderful to talk us through the condition in a more technical way than is easy to find online and to give us ideas of how to start care for Grace when she comes home. Since we could only show her a picture and give her the limited info we have, we obviously didn’t get specifics, but she could tell us that because of her head shape and age that Grace probably has hydrocephaly and a shunt. Basically this means that her spinal fluid is not able to regulate itself like it does in the rest of us and this can cause problems by putting pressure on parts of the brain. One very common outcome of this is that SB kids typically have some form of learning problem, frequently in processing details and working with abstract ideas. However, in her experience they are typically very smart kids who do really well in reading and memory work. She also mentioned that one of the first things we should do when Grace comes home is to get her kidneys checked out because SB sometimes results in urine being pushed back up into the kidneys and this can cause damage. She went over quite a few conditions that could be present because Grace probably hasn’t received treatment for different aspects of the disability…it’s good to know they are a possibility and yet it’s scary to hear all the ‘maybes.’ I found myself several times during the appointment just trying to remember to breath and trust that God will get us through whatever we’re facing.

Although she is a medical doctor, she also has experience with adoption as well and talked us through a few issues we need to keep researching. Like we’ve heard from so many, she told us the relational issues are likely to be harder to face than the medical ones. I had it in my head that I should probably be expecting ‘Big Grace’ to be emotionally/developmentally more on scale with ‘little Grace’ than Josiah, even though she’ll be closer to his age. Dr. McBrien said we should probably lower that expectation to more like 12/18 months old because of how long she’s been in an institution. She also encouraged us to continue looking for pre-adoption counseling so we could be more prepared for the ‘artificial twinning’ of Josiah and Big Grace. They will be very close in age, but will be drastically different in a lot of ways which could cause stress. While all of this was a bit overwhelming to have to absorb so quickly, it is incredibly helpful to be able to think through it now and adjust our expectations and find the resources we know we’ll need soon. Thankfully, we are in an area that offers a lot of excellent medical and educational resources and the social worker that met with us today informed us of some financial help that will offset some of the treatments/home modifications/health costs that we are facing.

On another note, our newspaper interview ran this week and it was wonderfully written. They also did a great job of helping us publicize the dinner/auction. Just a reminder to all you locals that if you’re planning to come we’re requesting an RSVP by July 1st so we can plan accordingly for food. You can email me at kimmie7@gmail.com or call at 319-447-7938. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and we have some wonderful items that have been donated to the auction. It makes me want to bid on some, but that might be a little counter productive! :)

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Matched!

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We have another major praise today…we were granted a $3000 matching grant through LifeSong. Our friends who are collecting donations for us have mentioned that several checks have been coming in in the past couple weeks and all of those, and any others that come in from now on, will be applied to this grant so we can collect all of it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with how this works, we have been ‘given’ $3000, but those funds will only be released to us when we have raised money of our own as well. So if we raise only $2000, then we receive only $2000 of the grant. If we raise $3000 then we can collect all $3000 of the grant.

If any of you are interested in helping us meet our goal you can email us for our friends’ address…I’m sure they’d appreciate it if we didn’t post their address on a blog to be viewed by everyone! And a big thank you to those of you who have already helped us and have been praying for this grant.

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Amazed

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The garage sale is over and it was amazing! A couple days ago I honestly couldn’t have told you how this was all going to work, but it went so well and was such a blessing. We moved 2 HUGE business-sized trailers worth of stuff out of the church Friday night…in the biggest storm I’ve seen in a long time. We were seriously not sure whether we would get to finish because it looked like we might be in for a tornado. And then at 6am we moved it all back out of those trailers and into a water-soaked park. It might not sound like ideal conditions, but we’ve had rain for the past 2 weeks and are schedule for more all next week. In fact, Saturday has been the only totally dry day during that whole time. It was sunny, with a slight breeze and absolutely beautiful. continue reading…

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Publicity!

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Image By: Crystl

Wow, for people who usually live a pretty quiet life these last few days have been very odd! Last night the local newspaper editor came by the house to do an interview with us (Grace crawled up in his lap and insisted he read her a book). They’ve agreed to run a story and help with advertising our fund raisers. Then Philip and I got up early to head over to the Christian radio station here to do another interview. I was kind of nervous, but it went really well and was much easier than I anticipated. We have ads in the local paper, have posted on multiple places online and will have signs up all over town…hopefully we’ll have a good turnout! For you locals, here’s the info again:

HUGE garage sale at Davis Park in Mt. Vernon this Saturday (the 19th) from 7:30-3:30. We’ll have food, clothes, electronics, crafts, toys, games, furniture, musical instruments, kitchen and housewares, etc. What originally started out as something that would fit in a friends’ driveway has overgrown the pavilion at the park! There is a chance of rain that day so PLEASE be praying for good weather! continue reading…

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Try Again

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First Major Fund Raiser is Next Weekend!

Our amended homestudy arrived this week and the kids and I took it to UPS this morning to be expedited back to the US gov’t so our paperwork could continued to be processed. Please pray that we made all the correct changes so we can recieve our approval soon! We’re also ready to send in the last batch of papers for apostilles as soon as they are reviewed by our Reece’s Rainbow team…they have been wonderful to double check everything for us to make sure there are no small mistakes that could cause problems in Ukraine. Those are the last pieces of our dossier and it’s exciting to see them almost done! continue reading…

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Update

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Ok, the paperwork problems look like they might be fixed and hopefully our forms will be processed soon. The officer in charge of our case has been very helpful and explained that there are some recent changes to the system that now allows them to be more thorough in their work. We had to include some specific examples of how we are educating ourselves and preparing our home to take of a special needs child. While it’s annoying to have to slow down to fix this we’re incredibly grateful it happened in the US instead of overseas. Once we get the US approval we will be about ready to send our dossier off to Ukraine…before they come up new papers to include! Just last week another paper was added to the list that should be in the dossier. We were warned at the beginning that putting this together is much like aiming at a moving target and it’s starting to feel that way!

The plans for the garage sale are continuing to come together with a lot of help from a lot of people. There’s still a a bunch of items to be sorted and organized before June 19th so I’ll be spending as much time as I can up at the church working on that. We did receive word this week that we’ve been accepted into the LifeSong program, which is an organization that helps families afford adoptions. Our church recently started a LifeSong account so now our paperwork will be sent to our church leaders and they will decide whether or not to award us a matching grant and how much that should be for if it’s awarded. We weren’t expecting to hear anything from them for several more weeks so that call was a pleasant surprise! At home we’ve been converting the work out room into a bed room and have made pretty good progress. With the exception of Kasia’s bassinet in our bathroom, everything seems to be finding appropriate places in other rooms. It’s exciting to think about having all 4 kids in the same house in just a few months!

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A Bump

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Image By: Antony McAulay

Our paperwork has hit a little bump and we’re hoping it will be cleared up soon. We received a call from the officer processing our I600A form (the one for the US gov’t) saying we didn’t include enough information in our homestudy about how we are preparing ourselves and our home to accommodate Grace’s condition. Our social worker has written plenty of studies for this country before and never had a problem like this so we’re not sure why this is happening, but we’re trying to reword a few parts and then will have to resubmit the study before the US gov’t will give us the form to complete our dossier. Thankfully the officer did call us instead of just making us wait for a letter to arrive and our social worker  responded almost immediately to help us fix this. We’re hoping to have it cleared up next week so the officer can continue processing our form. Please be praying that we get it all fixed now so don’t have problems with it when it’s sent overseas.

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Plodding Along

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Not much has happened this week, and yet we’ve stayed amazingly busy! I had to call someone from the Department of Homeland Defense to tell them we’d done our prints early or they would have waited to process them until our original date. We have no way of knowing how long it will take them to process them, but hopefully it will be quicker than the original date. There were 17 other families in the system ahead of us so it may take a few weeks. continue reading…

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Because We Want To

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We got to make the trip to Des Moines today to try our luck at getting an earlier appointment for fingerprints and it worked! While a friend watched the older kids we headed out and just prayed we weren’t wasting this trip. When we finally got there and the guard asked us what we were doing there so early all I could think to say was, ‘Because we want to.’ Brilliant, I know. Thankfully I didn’t actually say it and Philip explained why were trying to expedite the process. They were very sweet and let us do our prints today…and then we rushed back home to get the kids because our friend had received word that her daughter’s water had just broken and her grandbaby was on the way! Because we made such good time we were able to get the last paper notarized and after I get the last batch of papers faxed to Des Moines for apostilles we’re done with the dossier except for the form we’ll get from the fingerprints! It continues to amazes us how quickly this is all coming together. It was only 2 months ago that I first saw a picture of ‘Big Gracie’ and now we could be only 1-2 months away from getting a travel date. Lord willing she’ll be home by her birthday!

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